SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Prime Minister Scott Morrison joins us now from Canberra, Prime Minister good morning to you.
PRIME MINISTER: G’day Sam.
ARMYTAGE: Now have you simply held off the inevitable here before the Christmas break? Is the Government facing a defeat in the House of Reps on this when Parliament returns in February?
PRIME MINISTER: No, I don't believe so. I know Labor and others kept pushing that around all week but that’s not what happened this week. They always talk quite a big game, but what we did yesterday is ensure the passage of important national security legislation to make sure that terrorists and organised criminals and paedophile rings will not be able to use encrypted communications like WhatsApp and applications like this to plot their evil schemes.
That was my objective for this week. I wanted to see those laws passed, they were passed. We had to drag Labor kicking and screaming to the table but they were shamed into passing it last night and I'm pleased they did.
ARMYTAGE: You’ve been described as ruthless in getting that legislation through last night, these encryption laws were passed without any proposed amendments being made. Will the Government look at introducing any amendments when Parliament returns?
PRIME MINISTER: The Opposition wants to move some amendments and they’ll be able to do that when Parliament returns. That’s up to them. But we believe those laws were absolutely necessary and the amendments that we put through to the Bill yesterday reflected what had come out of the Joint Parliamentary Committee process. So they were the amendments that were agreed between the parties and we did have to work very hard to ensure that they were passed yesterday, because they were being delayed and used as a tactic to try to get the Government to water down our border protection laws and there’s no way I will water down our border protection laws. But Labor and the Greens joined forces yesterday to do just that. I mean in the last three months I have got over 100 children off Nauru, so that Bill was not about children – that Bill was about trying to end offshore processing.
Labor and the Greens have made it clear that they are voting and voted against offshore processing, which protects our borders.
ARMYTAGE: Ok, let’s move on. Barnaby Joyce is calling for an end to the ban of spouses working for parliamentarians. We’d only just forgotten about Barnaby’s issues and he’s reminded us. Barnaby says it would help to protect relationships in Canberra. Would you ever consider reversing the ban that was introduced by Tony Abbott?
PRIME MINISTER: No, we’ve got no plans to do that Sam. The arrangement has been in place as you know, for five years, a bit more than that. So no, we’ve got no plans for that.
ARMYTAGE: I would have thought that the wives would like a break from some of you sometimes.
PRIME MINISTER: Fair call.
ARMYTAGE: Or the husbands, equal rights. Ok, now Fairfax is reporting this morning that Border Force is slashing staff numbers at airports over Christmas, because of a budget blowout. Are you concerned about that, will Christmas travellers face delays and could this affect who is coming into the country over the Christmas break?
PRIME MINISTER: No and no. That’s just more storytelling in the media, that’s not what is happening.
ARMYTAGE: So there is no numbers being slashed?
PRIME MINISTER: No, not on frontline services or anything like that, so there’s no need for concern on those matters. Those issues are well in hand. It’s often put about at this time of year, those sorts of stories. But no, people can continue to travel as they should and enjoy their Christmas travel. I wish them very safe travel over the Christmas period. Be safe on the roads and don't forget also, we’re going into a very tough bushfire season, so it’s a good time for families to talk about how they would respond and should be preparing. Have a great time over Christmas but be safe.
ARMYTAGE: Yes alright and as we are all heading for holidays, it is time for everyone to reflect. It's been a tough year for the Government, the leadership circus, the citizenship debacle, the flip-flopping over climate policy, party disunity, defections. What’s your New Year’s resolution Prime Minister?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, apart from trying to master the chicken biryani - that’s a big objective of mine, I've always found that dish one of the trickiest to do – but of course it’s to ensure the economy remains strong, that I keep Australians safe and that I keep Australians together. That’s the mission I set out when I became Prime Minister just over three months ago. We’ve got to keep our economy, keep it strong, that’s what delivers the jobs, the health services, Medicare, hospitals. That’s where the money comes from to support it. Our economy is strong and we have a plan to make it even stronger. That’s why we will be seeking the support of the Australian people to ensure that we can keep doing that job, to keep them in jobs.
ARMYTAGE: Ok, if we don't see you before then, Merry Christmas. Thank you for your time Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you Sam and to everyone there also Merry Christmas and happy New Year.