6 March 2015
Transcript - #2015043, 2015

Interview with David Koch, Sunrise, Channel 7

DAVID KOCH:

Joe, good to see you. The police chief says he was trying to cheer them up, but was it insensitive of him to pose for those photos?

TREASURER:

Of course, Kochie, it was incredibly insensitive. It’s almost macabre the way this has been handled by the Indonesian authorities and I think we have done absolutely everything we can. It is just - it is just certainly frustrating, but it's so sad. This is just so sad on so many fronts.

DAVID KOCH:

How much foreign aid do we send to Indonesia and will you review that in the Budget?

TREASURER:

Well, we have already been reviewing our level of foreign aid and particularly over the last 12 months. Julie Bishop will have more to say about that as we get closer to the Budget, but our changes in foreign aid for Indonesia will not be directly linked to this event. I think on the one hand we have got to continue to maintain a diplomatic relationship with Indonesia, but the outrage of the Australian people is rightly palpable about all of this. This is just not the way to treat human beings, no matter how grievous their offences, no matter how outrageous their behaviour, this is not the way for a modern developing or developed country to behave.

DAVID KOCH:

Okay, let's move on to your Intergenerational Report you released yesterday, which is scaring the living daylights out of so many people.

TREASURER:

No, no…

DAVID KOCH:

Well, it shouldn’t because the numbers are all [inaudible] How can you forecast 40 years into the future, but it brings up some good issues that we should all be talking about. In 40 years, you said – it says the population will get to 40 million. Life expectancy approaching 100. As a result, you've repeated your previous call for us to work longer to help fund government services. Is this report sort of an early sales pitch ahead of the May Budget? Will you start trying to implement some of those ideas?

TREASURER:

Kochie, for years you and I have talked about having sensible discussions about Australia's future. This document, for anyone that is going to have a look at it, lays down the road map of Australia's future. I mean, we are going to live longer and that's fantastic. We’re going to be wealthier as a nation and that is fantastic. The question for all of us is how do we change our laws? How do we change our policies to fit in with the changing nature of our nation? Now, for example, the traditional life of working – of  studying when you’re young, working in the middle ages, retiring when you’re old, that's on its head as we live longer, maybe in many cases to 100. So, we’ll be in and out of the workforce. Should superannuation laws be changed so that they can accommodate our needs and our superannuation can accommodate our needs as we go in and out of the workforce and change careers? These are the sorts of questions we need to have answered.

DAVID KOCH:

Okay, okay, and also a change in mentality, isn't it…

TREASURER:

Yeah.

DAVID KOCH:

…if we are all expected to work longer, then employers have got to embrace the idea that 70-year-old Australians and 75-year-old Australians are productive?

TREASURER:

Well, that's right. It would be like changing the attitude of Channel Seven and ensuring that you’re still at that desk at 75 or 80. We have got to change attitudes and – well, that would be terrific, wouldn't it? In my case…

DAVID KOCH:

You've scared a few people there.

TREASURER:

…but in my case, you know, and in all of our cases, we need to change attitudes. I mean, employers are amongst the very worst. There are some very good employers if I can give a plug to Bunnings where a quarter of their workforce is over the age of 50. And you know, I went to Bunnings with the media the other day and I made the mistake of approaching an 83-year-old worker there and saying to him, asking him, ‘how many days a week he worked’. He looked at me indignantly and said, ‘five of course’. So, it is about changing attitudes from employers and it’s about changing the laws so that we accommodate older Australians who choose to work. We’re not forcing them to work. They’ve got to be able to choose to work.

DAVID KOCH:

And I suppose, underlying this is you will need to make our superannuation even more generous to encourage us to prepare to live longer so it doesn't run out which is a good thing, and not change the tax on it?

TREASURER:

Well, I mean, these issues are all part of the conversation with the Australian people. I think we need to think a bit more broadly about what superannuation is expected to do over the next 40 years. We gave a promise at the last election; we’re keeping that we’re not changing superannuation in these three years, but I do want to have a proper conversation because there are, for example, I get a lot of people approaching me saying that young people should be able to use their superannuation to fund a deposit on a home – on their first home. I am concerned about rising house prices and the accessibility to homes and homeownership for younger Australians, but we’ve got a limited pool of savings. We need to have these conversations and I know you guys at Sunrise will be part of that conversation.

DAVID KOCH:

Yeah, absolutely. Two things: I think it concentrated too much on cutting support for Australians as they get older rather than focussing on how to grow the economy and how to take advantage of an older generation, and you didn't really cover the impact of climate change over the next 40 years.

TREASURER:

Well, we did. I mean, climate change is part of the equation. I mean, there are many other influences as well. There was very little that touched on international – the international economy, and that’ll have a bigger impact on our economy than climate change and yet climate change got a bigger part of the report. I mean, you can put out reports that are 1,000, 2,000 pages and cover ever point. But you’re right; how are we going to grow the economy? Now, technology is a huge part of that – a massive part of that. Technology is changing the way we live. When Peter Costello delivered the first Intergenerational Report in I think in 2002, Facebook hadn't even been thought of. Six years ago when Wayne Swan – just before Wayne Swan delivered the Intergenerational Report, apps had only just been invented. So, we are seeing technology change. I mean, as people know, I am a big fan of the driverless car. That's going into production in America – mass production in America around the end of this decade and they expect – I have seen various reports suggesting that 75 per cent of the world's cars will be driverless by around the middle of the century. So, these things are going to change the way we live; that's exciting. We’ve got to use that technology to ensure that Australians have a better quality of life and I think we can do it. I really do think we can do it.

DAVID KOCH:

I agree, I agree. We’re entrepreneurial.

TREASURER:

Absolutely.

DAVID KOCH:

Alright Joe, thank you for that. Good to see you.

TREASURER:

Good on you Kochie, thank you.