Interview with Kylie Gillies and Larry Emdur – The Morning Show, Network Seven

Transcript
16 Oct 2017
Prime Minister
Private health insurance; Mental health; Power bills; ALP election review; Schools; Tony Abbott’s speech; Birthdays
E&OE
Health and Social Services

KYLIE GILLIES:

This morning, Australia is waking up to the biggest shake up of our private health insurance system in decades. Malcolm Turnbull here of course to join us.

We're told that young people are the winners. How do young people benefit?

PRIME MINISTER:

What we are doing is changing the rules so that private health insurers can give discounts of up to 10% to people under 30. That will encourage more young people to take out private health insurance and give them a, you know, a hand, because obviously times are tough, private health insurance costs have been going up. That’s helping young people, immediately.

What we are also doing is cutting the cost of the implants - knees and hips - which are a big chunk of the cost of private health insurance, about 14% of the total cost. We are saving $4 billion over four years and what that is going to do, is mean that private health insurance increases in the future, will be less. That puts some downward pressure on private health insurance costs.

LARRY EMDUR:

You certainly have our attention because Kylie is under 30 and I am just over 30.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, well, I'm sorry about that.

KYLIE GILLIES:

So am I.

PRIME MINISTER:

You’re looking fabulous though, no one would know.

LARRY EMDUR:

Thank you very much, smoothie. But there are winners on both sides of the age bracket here. Good to get the young people involved, because there is this culture of people going: “It’s too expensive, what’s it for, why do I have to do it?”

PRIME MINISTER:

That’s right. We’re also recognising that comparing all the plans is often very challenging. So we’re going to have more comparison tools on the government's own private health insurance comparison website. In addition to that, ensuring that plans will be identified as ‘gold, silver, bronze or basic’ so there will be an easier way to compare the different types of plans.

KYLIE GILLIES:

It's like the health insurance Olympics, gold, silver, bronze.

PRIME MINISTER:

I guess that's right. You’ve got to enable choice, by making the options clearer and more understandable.

LARRY EMDUR:

Will it be simple? Will it be easy to navigate?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’ll be simpler.

LARRY EMDUR:

Will it be easy to navigate? Because there’s red tape and then there’s reality. Sometimes the two don't get together.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, that's right. That is where the web is very valuable having those comparison tools. Look what we have been able to do with energy costs. We’ve managed to get retailers to get more people onto the right plans so many people are getting $200, $300, $400 a year savings on their energy bill. That’s helped by our Energy Made Easy website which is a government website that enables you to make sure you are getting the right plan.

So we want to do everything we can to ensure that people are able to use their smartphones to compare and contrast and put the power back into the hands of the consumer, so they get the right health insurance product and the right energy product and so forth.

KYLIE GILLIES:

But some things will not be covered anymore? We're talking about natural therapies and things like massages or Pilates?

I thought they were the things that drew young people to private health insurance. That's going to be scrapped.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, that’s been the argument. But I think what you’re better off doing to bring young people into health insurance, is to give them a discount. So up to a 10% discount is going to be very compelling, rather than including various alternative therapies - including yoga and so forth - into private health insurance. So, focusing private health insurance on covering therapies and treatments with proven therapeutic benefits that are clearly falling within that area of what we would understand as medical services and then, giving young people a discount, that’s what we are encouraging the funds to do and enabling them to do.

KYLIE GILLIES:

I love a discount for young people, it’s families who really struggle -

PRIME MINISTER:

Yep, sure.

KYLIE GILLIES:

With private health insurance, have you got –

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, young people have families too.

KYLIE GILLIES:

Under 30s? Sure, but families tend to be a bit older than that. What’s in it for families, who really struggle to meet the private health insurance premium every month?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well this is where reducing the cost of implants is very important. A very big –

KYLIE GILLIES:

There’s a big gap between 30 and a hip replacement isn’t there?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah, but everybody pays for it. See the way insurance works is that when you are young and healthy, you’re putting in and you will be drawing more out when you are older and in need of that hip replacement. So reducing the cost of the implants or prosthesis - and not just hips and knees but stents and all sorts of things – getting those costs down and the Minister Greg Hunt has done a great job of negotiating that.  That will ensure that there is less pressure on health insurance cost, for everyone.

KYLIE GILLIES:

For everyone.

PRIME MINISTER:

Everyone benefits.

LARRY EMDUR:

It’s interesting to think that if yoga isn't covered, that if yoga was covered, it would help us out with our knees and joint and hips later on?

PRIME MINISTER:

You can still –

LARRY EMDUR:

What about rolfing? Did you know rolfing has been –

KYLIE GILLIES:

What’s rolfing?

PRIME MINISTER:

Tell us about rolfing? Do you want to demonstrate it, or is it painful?

LARRY EMDUR:

No I just thought there’s a list of things that aren’t covered, it sounds uncomfortable.

KYLIE GILLIES:

Do you actually know what it is? I don’t know what it is.

LARRY EMDUR:

Well in researching this segment, it was one of the things that will no longer be on the list, yoga and rolfing.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yoga and rolfing. Well I’m sure no one is stopping you undertaking some yoga.

LARRY EMDUR:

Alright, now a special emphasis on mental health. Why is this so very important?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is critically important. Mental health has been a bit of a taboo. People have been shy about acknowledging they have a problem and haven’t wanted to put their hand up. So awareness is vitally important. That awareness is increasing and so more people are seeking help and that is good. But that is why we have to put more resources into mental health, so people will be able to get access to mental health services earlier through private health insurance.

You can see, you know, we spend $4 billion a year, the Federal Government does, on mental health services. You know you would have seen this week the initiatives we’ve announced with respect to veterans. We are doing more everywhere to prevent suicide, to ensure that there is more done to help people with mental health problems including – getting back to what I was saying about smartphones - including using technology.

Yesterday, I was out at Sydney University with Ian Hickie and Professor Jane Burns who are doing fantastic things so that you can report your condition, monitor your mood and get help using the smartphone as the gateway to getting the assistance you need.

LARRY EMDUR:

So important. So important.

PRIME MINISTER:

It is. We all have a vested interest in everybody’s mental health. It is the “mental wealth” of Australia that we want to preserve.

KYLIE GILLIES:

Can we move on to power bills? Where are we at trying to get those down? Please don't tell me to shop around, because I'm shopping around for my health insurance premiums, I'm trying to get those down.

LARRY EMDUR:

And your rolfing classes, you’re shopping around.

KYLIE GILLIES:

Yes, so where are we at trying to get these power bills down?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we’re doing a lot of things, I’ll just run through them. In the here and now, we got the retailers in and they are going out to people who have are on the wrong plans or their plan has expired, and making sure they know they can get a better deal.

Thousands of people are getting better deals now. So if you haven’t done so already, ring your energy provider. Say you want a better deal, go onto ‘Energy Made Easy’, check that out, there are really big savings available in the here and now.

We are bringing down the cost of gas. There has been a big shortage of gas. It’s incredible, but it has been created by government policies from the past. A shortage of gas on the east coast, you saw that I got the gas exporters in and they signed an agreement with the government to make sure there is enough gas for the domestic market and wholesale prices are coming down. Josh Frydenberg is doing a fantastic job as the Energy Minister ensuring that the companies that own the poles and wires - which is a big part for us, for retail customers, it’s about half of our bill – so we are ensuring they can't keep gaming the system.

So we’re doing everything we can to put downward pressure on energy prices.

LARRY EMDUR:

When will we see a difference? When will we see those prices go down?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, if you get a better deal, you’ll see a difference right now. People are getting a better deal now. Over time, particularly the reduction in the wholesale cost of gas, Larry, is going to make a big difference. Because gas sets the price of electricity generation.

Then in the longer term, we have got great initiatives like Snowy Hydro. You know, just outside, coming in here on work experience are some kids from Snowy Mountains Grammar from Jindabyne. They’re visiting here and they are so excited about Snowy Hydro 2, because they can see that that is the future of electricity -  clean, green, renewable storage. But that will take some time to build.

KYLIE GILLIES:

Larry though they were excited to see him.

LARRY EMDUR:

The kids will go away and say: “We saw the Prime Minister and we forgot about Larry”.

PRIME MINISTER:

You’re going to see them I guess, they’re here working on a school project.

LARRY EMDUR:

Have we got time to talk about Bill Shorten?

PRIME MINISTER:

Sure.

LARRY EMDUR:

Or are you racing out of here?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, no.

LARRY EMDUR:

Last night Seven News revealed the Labor Party is keeping the review of the 2016 election a secret. Why would they do that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I don’t know, I guess there’s things in there they don’t want people to read. I don’t know what’s in the report.

LARRY EMDUR:

Insiders are saying that Bill Shorten cost the Labor Party the election.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Larry, the important thing is that we won the election and look at how much we’ve done with a one seat majority in the House of Representatives and nowhere near a majority in the Senate. And we’ve got so much through the Parliament. Whether it’s important industrial relations reforms, whether it’s tax reductions or even the biggest school funding reforms.

Hey this is a good thing I’m doing –

LARRY EMDUR:

Sorry, just before you go on -

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah?

LARRY EMDUR:

Just before you go on, did Bill Shorten cost the Labor Party the election?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, that's a political commentator’s question. I honestly couldn’t help you with that. I think I’d leave that to the pundits. But I tell you what, a really important thing I’m doing -

KYLIE GILLIES:

You probably think you won it, he didn’t lose it.

PRIME MINISTER:

I won it, right, we won it. We won, it’s a team business, the Coalition won it and that's the most important thing. It's the most important thing for Australia, because we’re implementing our policies which are pro-growth, pro-jobs, delivering great health outcomes.

But let me talk about schools.

KYLIE GILLIES:

(Laughter)

Did we ask about schools?

PRIME MINISTER:

We got through, this is my next -

KYLIE GILLIES:

I want to talk about Tony Abbott.

PRIME MINISTER:

No let’s talk about -

KYLIE GILLIES:

His speech in London?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh yeah, yeah okay.

KYLIE GILLIES:

I haven’t heard what you thought about the speech, I’ve been waiting to hear.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well let me just say a little bit about schools, because I’m going to see David Gonski in a minute. I’ll come back to Tony Abbott.

KYLIE GILLIES:

Can we come back to Tony, promise?

PRIME MINISTER:

You know we’ve got through our big school funding reforms through the Senate. People said we couldn't do it, we did it. An extra $23 billion in funding, federal funding over the next ten years. National, consistent, needs-based funding. First time ever in the history of federal support for schools.

A big reform and part of it is, how are we going to use that extra money to make our education system even better, to get real excellence? David is leading a panel that is reviewing that and I am going to see him and his panel in a moment after this, with Simon Birmingham, the Education Minister. Because we want to make sure, that just like we want to make sure that our health care is outstanding, we want to make sure that every child gets an outstanding, excellent education in their schools.

LARRY EMDUR:

I think you answered your question on Tony Abbott.

(Laughter)

Gee, you guys, can we just go back to the Tony Abbott question?

PRIME MINISTER:

Alright.

KYLIE GILLIES:

What did you think?

PRIME MINISTER:

What did I think about what?

KYLIE GILLIES:

His climate change speech that he made earlier this week.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well he expressed a number of views there that were quite different to the ones he’d expressed when he was Prime Minister.

It’s a matter for him. Tony can explain his speech and whether it’s consistent or inconsistent. The important thing is that what we are doing is delivering the triple bottom line that Australians want; they want affordable energy, they want reliable energy - they don’t want to have blackouts, that’s Blackout Bill Shorten’s objective, given his ill-disciplined and ill-thought out policies - so they want affordable, reliable energy and they expect us to meet our international commitments to cut emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement, which we entered into when Tony was Prime Minister.

So as Tony said at the time  - and it’s right - Australia is a nation that when it makes a commitment, keeps it. So that is what we're doing, triple bottom line; affordable, reliable and meeting our emissions reductions.

KYLIE GILLIES:

So the turnaround has been baffling to you? His turnaround?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well again, he can explain the inconsistencies.

LARRY EMDUR:

Do you sometimes worry that you spend too much time talking about what other people are thinking and saying as opposed to having the space, blue-sky and clear-air?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, you didn't want to talk about schools, you wanted to talk about Tony Abbott. I reckon most of your audience, most of our audience today, are more interested in what I am doing and my Government is doing to make sure their kids get a great education. I think that’s what they’re talking about. They’re not talking about personalities.

LARRY EMDUR:

But don't you think they're interested in what you think about what’s unfolded during the week in the headlines? The front pages they’re seeing?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah sure, but I mean everyone knows where I stand on energy. I say it again; we’re committed to affordable, reliable energy and we're going to meet our international commitments to reduce our emissions.

KYLIE GILLIES:

But you talked about those schoolkids, wanting to talk about the schoolkids and climate change and global warming, very important to schoolkids.

PRIME MINISTER:

Of course it is. It’s important to me.

KYLIE GILLIES:

Absolutely, but the constituents also want consistency from their politicians. So when we look at Tony Abbott - and the voters who you wanted to speak about - when they see a lack of consistency, that’s of concern to them.

PRIME MINISTER:

You should get him on the show to explain.

KYLIE GILLIES:

Well we might just have to do that.

PRIME MINISTER:

But I mean, I am consistent. I’ve been making the same points for a very long time; affordable, reliable energy. You know what energy policy has got to be guided by? Engineering and economics.

There has been too much politics, too much ideology, too much idiocy, frankly. A lot of stupid things have been done in the past, that’s changed. I am a very hardheaded, clear-eyed businessman and I am approaching this with the benefit of engineering and economics, to get the right answers so people can afford to pay their electricity bill, the lights will stay on when you turn them on and we meet our commitments to reduce our emissions in line with our global agreement.

LARRY EMDUR:

Well, we thank you very much for answering all of our questions.

KYLIE GILLIES:

You tied that up nicely, didn’t you?

LARRY EMDUR:

Absolutely, now more importantly - not more importantly - but it's your birthday in a couple of weeks.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah?

LARRY EMDUR:

What does that look like?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it looks like my birthday, I'll be 63.

LARRY EMDUR:

But, what do you do?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think I will be in Parliament. But what I normally do, I like to have for my birthday, a romantic dinner with Lucy. So whether I can do it on the birthday or a little later, when we're together but that’s-

LARRY EMDUR:

Can you get the big room in Canberra? Will they give you the big room?

PRIME MINISTER:

The Great Hall?

LARRY EMDUR:

(Laughter)

The Great Hall, set for two?

KYLIE GILLIES:

That would be kind of cool.

PRIME MINISTER:

That is not - I like a quiet, romantic dinner with Luce, that’s the best. Sometimes we have a party, like when I turned 50 and we had a bigger party, for example.

KYLIE GILLIES:

Does Lucy bake you a cake or bring that in?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, she doesn't make me a cake, but she’s just -

KYLIE GILLIES:

She just pops out of it?

(Laughter)

PRIME MINISTER:

In busy lives - and we all have them - finding those precious moments when you’re together, that is the best birthday present of all.

LARRY EMDUR:

And how are you feeling at this age?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am feeling good! Fighting fit. I was saying to you earlier, I was out on the harbour kayaking. 

LARRY EMDUR:

Yeah, nice.

PRIME MINISTER:

Kayaking this morning with the guy that founded GoPro, Nick Woodman. He is an American who came out here on a surfing holiday 15 years ago and developed, made a sort of a case that he could carry a one-time camera on his wrist when he was surfing, to take pictures when he was surfing and out of that, developed the idea for GoPro. So we had a nice paddle on the harbour.

KYLIE GILLIES:

Well funny you should mention, we’ve got some vision here of you doing that this morning. There was a hidden camera he had on the surf ski.

PRIME MINISTER:

Have you?

KYLIE GILLIES:

No!

(Laughter)

No, I wish we did though.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well they weren’t hidden.

KYLIE GILLIES:

It would’ve been fabulous.

PRIME MINISTER:

I did a selfie on the harbour actually, one with Nick and one with a lady who was part of a paddling group that said hello.

LARRY EMDUR:

Just paddling by?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah and she had a camera and I said give me your camera and took a kayaking selfie off Shark Island.

KYLIE GILLIES:

Have you posted that to Insta yet?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I haven’t yet.

KYLIE GILLIES:

Yeah okay I’ll keep an eye out.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah maybe she will, keep an eye out.

LARRY EMDUR:

We know you’ve got to go. You've got important things to do. Friday the 13th, are you superstitious at all?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, not superstitious. Make your own luck.

LARRY EMDUR:

There you go, great to see you.

PRIME MINISTER:

The harder you work, the luckier you get.

KYLIE GILLIES:

True.

LARRY EMDUR:

Good one. Thanks for coming.

KYLIE GILLIES:

Larry is yet to discover that, aren’t you?

LARRY EMDUR:

Yeah I’ve never-

KYLIE GILLIES:

(Laughter) 

He is yet to test the theory but he is working on it. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER:

Alright, thanks a lot, great to see you.

[ENDS]