DAVID KOCH: Prime Minister Scott Morrison joins us now from Kirribilli. Prime Minister, happy new year and welcome back.
PRIME MINISTER: Happy new year David.
KOCH: Out on holidays, what were the big issues people were talking to you about?
PRIME MINISTER: People want jobs and they want to be sure about their jobs. They want to be able to keep pace with the cost of living, they want to make sure that the services they rely on, like Medicare, that these things are guaranteed. They all know that this is a product of a strong economy and they know that the economy needs to be strong so we can continue to ensure that our country is doing as well as it can.
You know, quiet Australians out there David, are just going about their daily lives, they’re not out there in a rage on Twitter or anything like this. They’re raising their kids, they’re running their businesses, they're getting off to work, they are busy running their own lives. That’s where they heads are at and that is where my head is, that’s what I am focused on.
KOCH: Okay what was the reaction to you forcing Councils to do citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day and also telling people what to wear to those ceremonies? Do we really want the Prime Minister telling us what to do there?
PRIME MINISTER: Well we’re responsible for citizenship, we’re responsible for maintaining the standards of citizenship, Councils basically get a license to run the ceremonies. Of all days, Australia Day, our national day, should be the day where migrants who have come to Australia and become new Australians, should have the opportunity to get their citizenship on that day. There are around 15,000 who will do that this year and we want to make sure that they have that opportunity and that our national day is not corroded and undermined by those who want to play politics with it, by shifting Australia Day citizenship ceremonies off to other days.
So if you want to run a ceremony and you’re a Council, you’re very welcome to do it. The vast majority, 70 per cent, do it on that that day, but others we insist do. And look, if you are getting citizenship on that day, by all means put the boardies and the thongs on after for the barbecue. But for the actual ceremony, like most who come, show the respect for the ceremony and the very serious thing that you are engaging in, which is citizenship of our great country.
KOCH: Federal Police have helped Malaysian authorities to stop 34 Sri Lankans and Indians boarding a boat to Australia. Three members of a people smuggling syndicate were also arrested. What’s your intelligence showing? Are we seeing increased activity by people smugglers in Asia focusing on Australia again?
PRIME MINISTER: Well the risk is always there and it’s always constant. The system we put in place under Operation Sovereign Borders which I initiated all those years ago, part of that is working closely with our regional partners to do exactly what the report says.
So you know I won't go into what other intelligence says, but the threat is always there. There are thousands of people up in Indonesia, if they get the green light from the Labor Party if they’re elected, who will want to get on boats and test the system. But under us, under our Government, that system has held firm. Operations Sovereign Borders has been a great success and we won't change any of it.
KOCH: Okay. Big year for you coming up, fresh from your holiday, it’s an election year, are you still focusing on May? Is that when the election is planned in your mind or have you changed your mind while on holidays?
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, no changes there. The Budget will be handed down in April and that will be the first Budget surplus we’ve seen in over a decade. And coming into this year, as you’d know David, the economic storm clouds globally are a bit stronger than they were. In fact a lot stronger this time this year, than they were 12 months ago. There are other tensions out there, whether it’s trade tensions between our biggest world players, plus what’s happening in Europe.
PRIME MINISTER: So there are plenty of concerns out there, but we are in a strong position. But we will only stay there if we can keep on the strong economic track that we’re on. That doesn't mean high taxes, that’s for sure.
KOCH: So no election in March?
PRIME MINISTER: No.
KOCH: Okay, alright thank you for that. Welcome back, happy new year.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks a lot David, cheers.