18 May 2015
Transcript - #2015127, 2015

Interview with Ray Hadley, The Ray Hadley Morning Show, 2GB

RAY HADLEY:

Treasurer, Joe Hockey. We’re about to talk about a whole range of other matters but you’re sitting there as I took the call from Sam, shaking your head. We have a major problem in the country with ice, a major problem. In rural and city areas it’s never been as it is now.

TREASURER:

Oh, it’s terrible Ray, I know the Prime Minister’s made a number of announcements about it – ways that we can try and help deal with it. But, you know, I was in Northern Tasmania and it was Friday lunch time and I’m wondering why all these kids are in the mall and some of them were just off their dials. I just, I just got angry about it.

RAY HADLEY:

In a rural part of Tasmania?

TREASURER:

Yeah. Yeah, I mean it’s just a culmination of factors but it is a scourge. You can easily see how it’s linked to that horrific event with Russian roulette with a gun…

RAY HADLEY:

The most plausible explanation I guess that drugs were involved. I just, you see what they tell me, the coppers tell me, is that it’s readily available and it’s a lot cheaper than other drugs. People don’t necessarily have to work to buy it, and there are outlaw motorcycle gangs moving into rural parts of Australia that they haven’t been into before and it’s their currency, it’s how they make money, which is really scary.

TREASURER:

Yeah, it’s a major threat in indigenous communities as well now.

RAY HADLEY:

Obviously. Okay, back to what we were to talk about. Normally Scott Morrison would be here but he stood aside for Joe and I appreciate that. He’ll be in tomorrow with us, the Minister Scott Morrison. Now I know you don’t take much notice of the polls, particularly when they’re crook. But this morning there must be a smile on the face of the Treasurer and the Prime Minister and those in Cabinet.

TREASURER:

Well, you know what I’m happy about.

RAY HADLEY:

What?

TREASURER:

Is when people come up to me in the streets and say they’re going to go out and have a go, that’s what lifts my spirits. When everywhere I go people are saying yep they’re going to go and buy that bit of equipment for their business. A tradie came up to me yesterday and said he’s going to buy a new toolkit he’s been holding off. He’s a plumber and he needed some new tools. These are the things that people can do now, because not only are we giving them a tax cut, but we’re giving them the ability to write-off against their tax on the 1st July anything they buy up to $20,000 that helps with their business, that’s great.

RAY HADLEY:

It’s funny I was just looking at some commercials I’ll do later for 4BC in Brisbane, for one of our sponsors, free plug for them, Spitwater, and it’s the Joe Hockey commercial [laughter]. Spitwater is a device under high pressure, petrol, diesel, electric, where – you know used by brickies, used by people in the building industry. They’ve said unashamedly in their ad that I just looked at before, go out and buy one now because it’s tax deductable until 2017 thanks to Joe Hockey. So, that’s the sort of thing that’s going to happen I suspect.

TREASURER:

Well, that’s what we need Ray. We need that as an adrenalin shot into the arm of small business and small business is going to be the big driver of the future of the Australian economy. Every big business starts as a small business, they’re the big innovators, they’re disrupting a lot of big businesses that are slow off the mark. I’m very positive about Australia’s future and small business is the engine room of the economy.

RAY HADLEY:

I watched you with Karl this morning on the Today program and he like everyone else was trying to push you on a double dissolution and going to the polls. The one thing that wasn’t raised, and this’ll be frustrating, the last time you did the Budget before this one, and you’ve changed tact this time, you couldn’t get it through the upper house. Based on what the Labor Party have said so far, based on what the crossbenchers are saying so far, you’re going to really struggle. You can send Scott Morrison into bat, you can go into bat, anyone else can go into bat. You can talk to Clive, you can have Chinese food with him, you can do what you like, he’s only one vote in the Senate this time. But, what happens if you know, the responsible Budget that tries to trim things without being too tough, gets to the hurdle, the Senate, and they knock it on the head? I mean, it has to be a game changer?

TREASURER:

Well, certainly there’s a lot of pressure now on Bill Shorten and rightly so. He’s now come up with $59 billion of big spends and he hasn’t said how he’s going to pay for them. So, he’s even opposing his own savings, his own previous Budget cuts, which is kind of bizarre. So, I think the pressure’s now on Bill Shorten to start being cooperative and helping us to address part of the mess that he left. Importantly, we’re continuing to roll out our plan. I mean, our small business plan is going through, Ray. There’s no debate about that now. Our cut’s going through.

RAY HADLEY:

But surely the whole deal is predicated on the whole deal?

TREASURER:

In families it is.

RAY HADLEY:

Yeah, but in piecemeal, if they don’t give you the savings you want in some areas, it would be irresponsible of the Government to go ahead and spend in another area if the Senate doesn’t give you the money with which to do it?

TREASURER:

Well, there are some things we’re just not proceeding with like the Paid Parental Leave Scheme that we took to the last election and therefore, that helps us to save some spending which is going to small business. So there’s an offset there already. But, having said that, there’s still a lot that is going to the Senate that is going to require some common sense. Now, Christine Milne was a very difficult person to deal with previously…

RAY HADLEY:

Why?

TREASURER:

Well, she wouldn’t return our phone calls as a starting point.

RAY HADLEY:

That’s not a good start.

TREASURER:

It isn’t a good start [inaudible].

RAY HADLEY:

If they’re not returning your calls Joe, you give up. Whether it’s Christine Milne or a girlfriend when you were 20.

TREASURER:

[laughter] Well, we’re not going there. But, in the case of Christine Milne, she was very difficult to deal with. I’m hopeful that the new Greens leader, Senator Di Natale, is going to be far more sensible and sooner or later, someone’s got to call out Bill Shorten. About the fact that he’s making all these promises. Last Thursday night, he said he wanted to give small business the five per cent tax cut, right. On Friday, his Finance Minister is saying well, we might not want to do that for the next election. The concern was that you can’t just give a company tax cut for small business because as you know, two thirds of small businesses are sole traders or partners, so they weren’t going to get anything under the Shorten plan. Under ours they’re getting something and they’re getting a five per cent tax discount, they’re also getting accelerated depreciation. So, there are packages around. But mate, we’re giving it our very best shot and we’re very confident that we’ll get things through.

RAY HADLEY:

You wouldn’t expect that given what happened in the polls today and the acceptance of the Budget by just about everyone bar the Labor Party and the crossbenchers in the Senate, that there would be a leadership challenge. I note that Simon Benson writing in the Telegraph on Friday enunciated what most people think. That if there was to be – you know not a challenge but if the Prime Minister were to decide that he’d had enough and wanted to ride bikes for the rest of his life and work harder for Rural Fire Services, that the person that would be front running now would be Morrison, in front of Turnbull. Now that may result in Malcolm having a deprivation problem, because he’s gone on TV yesterday and ripped into Leigh Sales and Emma Alberici about quote, “Their aggressive approach to political interviews”. Now, I would have thought he was going to pick on someone about being aggressive, he may have picked on someone else other than Leigh Sales and Emma Alberici. You were the subject of an interview on the night you handed down the Budget by Leigh Sales, did you feel like you’d been savaged.

TREASURER:

Did I think, well, you know I was getting my point across. I mean it was - I didn’t feel as though it was particularly any sort of…

RAY HADLEY:

You weren’t going to crumble were you?

TREASURER:

[laughter] No, no, no.

RAY HADLEY:

You weren’t going to pull out a Kleenex and say Leigh can you please leave me alone I’m in the fetal position?

TREASURER:

No, I have a great deal of respect for Leigh Sales. I think she’s a formidable interviewer and I don’t mind a difficult interview because I’m always trying to argue the policies and they’ll overcome some of the various commentary…

RAY HADLEY:

Well see I’m viewed as a right wing commentator, yet the best two blues I’ve had on air with Federal Parliamentarians, one of them was with Alexander Downer who I think called me a pig. That was over the fact that he’d gone on a holiday to – or didn’t go on a holiday to Bali knowing that paedophiles were working inside a hotel and we had a blue about that. The other one was a Liberal politician, the former Attorney General Greg Smith, who threatened to sue me and do all sorts of strange things to me. So I’m privy to how people perceive you and you know, when you’re doing your job and asking difficult questions. Because I had the luxury of seeing her interview you then interview Bill Shorten and if she was tough on you, she was tougher on him I thought. I mean she demanded answers from both of you.

TREASURER:

Whoever’s conducting interviews should demand answers. I’m happy to stand by all of my interviews and people can interpret them whichever way they like.

RAY HADLEY:

Well I’m glad you feel that way, because I’m about to mention a difficult time. I heard you again this morning on Channel 9 talking about double dipping. Now I don’t necessarily disagree with you that it’s double dipping, in relation to the paid parental leave. Someone pays you an amount of money in private enterprise or the government, and then you have another crack with another government scheme at $11,500 or thereabouts. Now that brings me to this question. When you’re discussing this new system that was brought in at the Budget, how you would prevent double dipping, and you agree it’s double dipping. Not a fraud because it’s not illegal, but it is double dipping. Legal double dipping. What did Mathias Cormann and Josh Frydenberg say at the Cabinet table when this is being discussed? You know, about the fact that they had double dipped? Because what happened, you were made to look silly, Scott Morrison was made to look sillier. I would have thought both those blokes would have said when this was being discussed by Cabinet, about we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that. They would have said, oh listen just on this, declaration, my wife who’s a lawyer and my wife who’s a lawyer, did exactly the same thing and we double dipped legally because we’re entitled to do it. I mean, I thought it would have been better with you blokes armed with that knowledge. You may have gone on a different direction with the general public had you known that, because it was rather embarrassing three days later for them to say, whoops, guess what? We double dipped. Did you know that they’d double dipped?

TREASURER:

Well, look I can’t recall, because when you go through…

RAY HADLEY:

But it would stand out in your mind, I mean Mathias Cormann and Josh Frydenberg put their arm up and say Joe, Prime Minister, we did this.

TREASURER:

Ray, what happens is when Ministers come forward with new policy proposals where they’re going to spend more money, we ask the Ministers to come forward in their portfolio with offsetting savings. Where they think they can save some money. Now, in this case, when we’re about to spend an extra $3.5 billion on childcare, which parents want, 165,000 parents want to work more or to participate in work and they can’t get affordable or accessible childcare, we responded to that by saying, okay, we’re going to focus on that by helping parents with their children up to the age of six. Rather than the first six months where out old paid parental leave scheme was. There’s got to be offsets, and in this situation we’re saying okay, if you’re collecting paid parental leave from your employer, be it the government or the private sector, and it’s more than what the government is offering, then you should take that and not take what the government is offering. But if the government scheme is paying more than what your employer will do – and a lot of small businesses Ray, don’t have the capacity to pay parental leave. I mean, my family’s own small business had never had the capacity to pay parental leave payments. So the government scheme is there, $11,500 for 18 weeks, which is fair enough. But you can’t do both. I think Scott was right and we were right, that it is important that we make that…

RAY HADLEY:

I’m going to have to play the Leigh Sales card here. You didn’t answer the question. Do you think it was a bit ridiculous that Mathias Cormann and Josh Frydenberg didn’t put their hand up at Cabinet and say, gentlemen, we declare an interest, we’ve claimed this and then maybe you would have said to Laurie Oakes no, it’s not a fraud, it’s not a fraud. It’s legal.

TREASURER:

Well, Ray, I can go over all the interviews I’ve done, but the real result of what we’ve done is we’re trying to make savings to pay for…

RAY HADLEY:

You still haven’t answered the question.

TREASURER:

I know, because you’re asking me to pass comment on comments, and I, Ray…

RAY HADLEY:

Well no I’m asking you whether it would have been better for Mathias Cormann and Josh Frydenberg with the benefit of hindsight, for you and Morrison, so you didn’t look like dills, to have said, we’re part of this rort, we’re part of the double dipping.

TREASURER:

Well I think on the one hand there’s an expectation that self-interest will prevail with politicians, but when they’re arguing against self-interest as might be suggested by what you’re putting, then we’ve got to do whatever’s right.

RAY HADLEY:

You miss the point, it would have been better for them to have [inaudible]. I think they should have been honest enough to say to you, hey boys, might be a little embarrassing two days after the Budget’s handed out when everyone finds out that we double dipped, and I’m sure there are other politicians…

TREASURER:

Well they may not have, I mean their wives might have done it and they didn’t know, I don’t know their situation…

RAY HADLEY:

Hang on. Now listen Joe, Joe please.

TREASURER:

Can I tell you, my wife doesn’t tell me about…

RAY HADLEY:

Well Joe I don’t have one to tell me anything but let me say this to you, that in relation…

TREASURER:

I’m sure there’s a lot of women out there that would love to marry you Ray.

RAY HADLEY:

Let’s not - it’s not the continuous call team, with all due respect Treasurer. I’m pretty sure, at some stage when this was all discussed. [inaudible] of their beautiful and wonderful wives and young mothers, they would have said, Mathias, Josh, we did this, I’m sure…

TREASURER:

But if they’d passed over, if they’d said no we can’t do this because we received it, that would be worse in my view.

RAY HADLEY:

Oh, of course it would be. I’m thinking about the embarrassment for you and Scott, they should have told you. I don’t want to be criticised by the Communications Minister because he can ring ACMA and dob me in and I’ll get in trouble for being too aggressive or something, so we’ll leave it at that. There’s a story in the Courier Mail today about a group of Liberal National Party MPs who are prepared to stand up to you over the childcare policy, because they see it as unfair to stay-at-home mums. Have you heard about the dissent within the Party out of Queensland or not?

TREASURER:

Well, obviously people do raise the issue about stay-at-home mums…

RAY HADLEY:

I’ll take that as a yes.

TREASURER:

Well Ray, of course I listen to my colleagues and some have raised the issue. As we identified in the Intergenerational Report, which was released earlier this year. Female workforce participation in Australia is lower than Canada and New Zealand and that has an impact on our economy. Most particularly, we want to give mums the choice, we want to give mums a choice. So, if they were to work a day a week or five days a week, as much as they choose to work, we want to be able to facilitate that. Now, the reason why we are putting money into childcare is to help to facilitate that choice for mums and dads, some dads as well. So, it’s not either or. We actually spend on family payments, $38 billion a year, we spend $7 billion a year on childcare. There is a fairly sizeable amount of money that goes to parents that are staying at home, taking care of the young children as well. So, there is a balancing act here, we actually need to help to facilitate people who want to work, to go into work.

RAY HADLEY:

Now, just on other matters. I notice that Bob Hawke’s wife Blanche today has said that he would never have become Prime Minister had the media at the time been as intrusive in the ‘80s as it is now. I guess the answer to that is, in my view, not just the media. I mean everyone, as we found out recently, is a photographer. Everyone’s got a camera. Back in the ‘80s, people weren’t walking around with an instamatic in their hip pocket like they have now. So I guess in all forms we’ve changed in the last 30 years. I mean, given Mr Hawke’s reputation which was earned or not earned, I have no idea about his private life but now that his wife would say that, do you think that’s a reasonable assessment? That the focus is on you men and women now far greater than it ever was? And I guess everyone in public office?

TREASURER:

Sure. Yeah, I’ve been in nearly 20 years now. 19 years and it’s completely changed. It’s completely changed in those 19 years. Social media has changed it.

RAY HADLEY:

You’ve got to be so careful.

TREASURER:

Well, I’m wondering where this is going, if you’ve got a photo that’s been [laughter]…

RAY HADLEY:

No, no. You know what I use my phone for? I use it to make phone calls and texts. It’s all I use it for. My daughter text me yesterday and said, where are you dad? I said, well I’m playing golf. I said why? She said I can’t find you on Find My Friend. Now that’s an app.

TREASURER:

Yeah, she’s following you, she’s following you.

RAY HADLEY:

She knows where I am every second of the day. The quid pro quo there, this is my youngest daughter, the 18 year old, the quid pro quo is I know where she is. So she knows where I am, I know where she is.

TREASURER:

No, you know where her phone is. You don’t know where she is. She could have left the phone in her boyfriend’s car… [laughter]

RAY HADLEY:

Don’t ruin – why are you ruining it. It’s alright for you, wait until your kids get older, you’ll be able to look at them, not just…

TREASURER:

This morning I kissed them goodbye for five days and I said look, I’d love to drop you all off at school but I’ve got to go speak to Ray Hadley, so there you go.

RAY HADLEY:

Sorry kids.

TREASURER:

They know where I am.

RAY HADLEY:

Sorry kids. Exactly, on the radio. Just one final thing, I suspect after the Budget was so well received, and it was well received and congratulations to you. It was a great Budget speech as well. Then you’ve got the polls. Do you feel a bit like Johnathan Thurston as opposed to Greg Bird today?

TREASURER:

[laughter]

RAY HADLEY:

Poor old Scott. He meant to say Jack Bird, he said Greg Bird. I pointed out he’s got an 8 week suspension. Drugs charges pending. I was hoping that the following morning you didn’t wake up feeling like him.

TREASURER:

Well, you know Ray, I’m still living in the ‘70s in one sense. I’m still thinking of Artie Beetson, Grant Hedger, and Billy Mullins and all those guys [inaudible].

RAY HADLEY:

You’ve made yourself totally irrelevant to all the younger people that may support you…

TREASURER:

Johnathan Thurston, I think Johnathan Thurston’s the finest back I’ve seen in years. He’s playing up in Townsville and he’s a brilliant player and I understand he’s a good guy too.

RAY HADLEY:

Lovely fella. Anyway, better to be Johnathan Thurston than Greg Bird in 2015 I can tell you.

TREASURER:

Well, you know, I’m pretty comfortable being Joe Hockey [laughter]. Except when I speak in the third person. Which is… [inaudible]

RAY HADLEY:

It’s like an episode of Seinfeld.

TREASURER:

Yeah that’s right, a Seinfeld episode, you know, Jimmy loves you…[laughter]

RAY HADLEY:

Jimmy’s angry, Jimmy doesn’t like that [laughter]

TREASURER:

Jimmy’s fond of Elaine.

RAY HADLEY:

Joe’s not happy, Joe’s not happy with the Senate [laughter].

TREASURER:

[inaudible]

RAY HADLEY:

See you later thanks for your time, the Treasurer Joe Hockey.