PRESENTER: Welcome to the Gold Coast, Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
PRIME MINISTER: Hey guys, how’re you going?
PRESENTER: Well thank you. Hey welcome and congratulations first. We’ve never spoken to you as our Prime Minister so it’s an honour for us, thank you.
PRIME MINISTER: Well it’s great to be with you. Thanks for the invite.
PRESENTER: That’s the way. By the way, happy 50th birthday, was it the 13th of May? What’d you do?
PRIME MINISTER: Well I didn’t get to celebrate it because I was in the middle of delivering a Budget as Treasurer back then. So a few months later I got away with a few friends down the south coast of New South Wales and we had a great time together, some old uni mates and that sort of thing. It’s good to stay in touch with your mates and your friends and your family. They’re the ones that keep you grounded.
PRESENTER: I didn’t even know you were 50, I actually thought you looked a bit younger. And I’m not even trying to suck up to you.
PRIME MINISTER: Well I think you’re wonderful.
PRESENTER: Alright now I’m going to ask a hard question. Here we go, here we go. So the big news today is that you are setting in your Budget $112 million to fund the Light Rail.
PRESENTER: So, what’s your favourite beer?
PRIME MINISTER: I can give you that, Hairy Man, it’s a brew from the Shire in Sydney. But anyway.
PRESENTER: Hairy Man. Oh ‘ello I do like hairy men -
PRIME MINISTER: Check ‘em out on Facebook.
PRESENTER: Now I know the Prime Minister does too. We have so much in common. But what’s happening with the Light Rail? Does this mean it’ll actually happen or are you going to have argy bargy with Annastacia Palaszczuk? Who’s my cousin, so be nice.
PRIME MINISTER: Well they need to stump up as well. I mean, this is a project in Queensland, we’ve already committed over $460 million to this project to date on Stages 1 and 2 and we’re putting $112 million into Stage 3 which will take it from Broadbeach South down to Burleigh Heads. So we’re calling on them to come and do their bit as well, like they have on the previous stages of the project. The Gold Coast is a big and growing city and it’s going to continue doing that over the next 20 years and it needs this infrastructure to deal with that population growth. I think the Light Rail has been a great success.
PRESENTER: It has.
PRIME MINISTER: A really great success and we want to see that success continue and that’s why we’re committed to go to Stage 3.
PRESENTER: Prime Minister, a million people a month are using it, it is a massive success. I think most people would love it extended except for about 2,000 people in Burleigh. But to me, it’s funny, what do the state government need to stump up? How much do they need to come up with and are we, like, at the end of a dinner party going: “Oh look I didn’t have the entrée, so I’d like to pay a bit less”?
PRIME MINISTER: Well obviously they’re going to put in the lion’s share because it’s a state government project. It’s very rare for a Commonwealth Government, the Federal Government, to invest in these sort of projects. We started this several years ago, I was Treasurer at the time and committed the first amount of funding to the project. That was going in particularly to support the Commonwealth Games and it has been such a success linking the Gold Coast all the way up and down where previously there wasn’t that transport infrastructure and so as a Government we’re very committed to doing these sorts of things where it makes a big difference. I think it is making a big difference. At the end of the day they’re the state government, they’re primarily responsible and the Council as well, they all have to throw in as well.
PRESENTER: The other thing that you’re plugging today is that you’re going to be changing the working visas for backpackers and one of the things that I’m impressed with is that they no longer need to leave jobs every six months and will be permitted to stay with an employer for up to a year. What made you decide to do this?
PRIME MINISTER: Well it’s just the strain which is on our horticultural industry, our ag industry, getting workers to actually get the fruit off the vine. Whether that’s up in Darwin or it’s here in Queensland or down in other parts of the country, in South Australia, this is a real big problem.
Look, I want Australians to do these jobs but when they don’t show up and they don’t do the work, we can’t let the fruit rot on the vine. This is what’s primarily driving it and we’ve had the feedback from the agricultural producers that they needed to be able to keep people there for longer. The reason for that is they don’t have to re-train people every time.
PRESENTER: Re-training is so expensive.
PRIME MINISTER: It costs them a lot of money and if it costs them a lot more money, it costs you a lot more money when you go to the fruit and veg shop. So it’s important to get the costs down. We’re simplifying it also for the Seasonal Worker Program coming out of the Pacific, and that’s targeted to a lot of areas around the country. So for those Islander workers who come out there’ll be a lower cost and less paperwork and they’ll be able to stay a little longer too.
PRESENTER: Alright, now can you extend that to au pair visas as well please? Because I love my au pairs and they all have to go and it upsets my kids, literally hysterically crying because they have to go and I know it’s something that’s argy bargy with Peter Dutton and that was awkward to even bring up his name to you but can you -
PRIME MINISTER: It was a little awkward.
PRESENTER: Look at that as well? Because you know, mums around the country are in the same boat with the farmers that we have people come and look after our kids so we can work to pay tax and then they have to go.
PRIME MINISTER: Well our priority is obviously on the ag sector and making sure that they economy is supported by being able to harvest. What this also does is if you spend two years in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa and in that second year you spend six months in a regional area, well, you can actually apply for a third year where there’s no conditions. So that’s going to be good for the tourism industry as well. The backpacker industry, I know from my time in tourism, is incredibly important to Australia particularly for regional Australia. Because, you know, backpackers don’t go home with any money in their pocket. Every dollar they earn here, they spend here. That’s the whole point. So that’s what we want to see them do and this I think will support the backpacker tourism industry right across Queensland, right across the country. But I know it’ll be particularly good for Queensland and that’s why I’m here this week telling people how we’re backing Queenslanders and listening to them and hearing them.
PRESENTER: I’m going to call my au pair a fruit picker and she can fruit off my lemon tree out the back and then I’ll get to keep her as long as I want.
PRESENTER: Prime Minister, you must freak out sometimes at some of the strange stories and requests that come to you because you’re the Prime Minister. For example, Pamela Anderson of Baywatch fame has asked you, literally, to get involved and see if you can get Julian Assange home out of the Ecuadorean Embassy.
I wonder are there any other embassies that I could just bloody go and live in please, if you could help me out. I’d love to just eat pizza and watch telly. But that’s a really difficult one with the United States being such a strong ally and he’s regarded as an enemy of the state, our press thinks he deserves the highest award we can…
PRESENTER: We’ve actually got Pamela Anderson asking you. Was this on…
PRESENTER: This was on 60 Minutes last night. Have a listen to this Prime Minister.
AUDIO RECORDING: Defend your friend and get Julian his passport back and take him back to Australia and be proud of him, and throw him a parade when he gets home.
PRESENTER: You want to throw him a parade?
PRIME MINISTER: Well…no. I’ve had plenty of mates who’ve asked me if they can be my special envoy to sort the issue out with Pamela Anderson. But putting that to one side, the serious issue is our position on that hasn’t changed and look she’s raised some other important issues about live sheep exports and the Government’s been doing quite a lot on that. We just had the Moss Review back, I mean I know maybe a bit of a hard policy topic, but we are acting on that with an Inspector eneral and an animal welfare branch sitting within the Department of Ag. There’s some pretty serious issues going on with live sheep and we’re acting on them.
PRESENTER: Prime Minister, you strike me as a pretty down to earth sort of bloke and I just want to ask you a really straight sort of question with a down to earth answer if we can; how can you make it cheaper for mums and dads to pay all the bills that we face these days.
PRIME MINISTER: Well to make sure the electricity companies can’t take them for a ride and use the regulations and laws to their advantage. I mean, they benefit from a pretty restricted market and they get a rails run and they’ve been getting it for a long time. So what we’re doing is changing the laws to make sure that it’s harder for them to do that and putting pressure on them to take the prices down. The system has been rigged a bit too long in their favour and that’s why we’re changing the laws to try and even it up and make sure the consumers get a better go.
PRESENTER: What about petrol? I mean, it’s forty bucks for a quarter of a tank these days.
PRIME MINISTER: This one’s a lot harder because what’s happening with petrol prices is largely being driven by things well beyond our shores. This is the world oil price, it’s exchange rates, it’s things like this and these things happen they go up and down. We’re expecting that to moderate in the months ahead and I certainly hope they do. Because I know it’ll be putting a real pressure on family budgets and for people getting around, tradies who’ve got their utes and have to get on site when they’re sometimes having to travel quite a bit during the course of the day. I think it is a real burden. We’ve got the ACCC who Is the cop on the beat which ensures and seeks to make sure that the companies aren’t doing anything wrong. but at the same time, you know, you’ve got to get on and use those mobile apps. I think that’s been one of the best things that have happened in recent times. You really can shop ahead, you can look around for the best deal. Before, it was a lot harder to do that so that gives the customers a bit more power but at the same time I know it’s a bit tough at the moment and we’ve got to hope that those prices internationally come down and provide some relief.
PRESENTER: And what about for electric vehicles, getting some more of them on the road. What can you guys do about making it easier and cheaper?
PRIME MINISTER: There’s not a lot that has to be done there, frankly. It’s just increasingly making sense and the price will come down with the technology. I don’t think government has to get in there and subsidise all this sort of stuff, it’ll just make sense. When it gets to the right price point people will buy it and off you go. There’s been some discussion about how we can work with others about getting recharging stations and those sorts of things, but a lot of the companies are doing that themselves as well. So if the companies and things are just going to get on with it anyway I don’t think we have to throw people’s taxpayer’s money around at it. We need them for hospitals and schools and things like that.
PRESENTER: I agree.
PRESENTER: Prime Minister, this morning we were talking about the Melbourne Cup that’s tomorrow, I imagine you’ll be there as the Prime Minister of this country-
PRIME MINISTER: No, I won’t actually I’ll be in Queensland.
PRESENTER: He’s here! He’s here for four days!
PRESENTER: You know that you can get to Melbourne in a day, right? There’s planes.
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah sure. Look I’ll let the glitterati go down there for that day, they’ll have a lot of fun and I wish them all the best. But I’ll be happy to be here in Queensland.
PRESENTER: Well we were trying to name horses this morning using the first suburb we lived in plus what we had for dinner last night, so I was Clovelly Chickenboobs. What would the Prime Minister’s horse be called if- the first suburb you ever lived in and what you had for tea last night.
PRIME MINISTER: Bronte Lasagne.
PRESENTER: Bronte Lasagne.
PRESENTER: That’s a great horse name.
PRESENTER: Well, Bronte Lasagne. It has been great talking to you today, thank you for making time to be on our show and don’t be like Migaloo the white whale, as Wayne Swan said you were, rare sightings of you here in Queensland, please come back.
PRIME MINISTER: I will, thanks for having me on this morning. Great to be with you.