Photo: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright
MIKE CRICHTON: Prime Minister, good morning and welcome to 98Five.
PRIME MINISTER: G’day Mike, good to be with you.
CRICHTON: Now, can I call you ScoMo? Is that alright?
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah sure mate, no worries, that’s what they call me back in the Shire, so that’s all good.
CRICHTON: There you go. Now, ScoMo we know you’ve been in town to talk about the GST changes for Western Australia and also the rest of the country. But more importantly, I’ve heard that you’re a massive Tina Arena fan, is this true?
PRIME MINISTER: My interest is unhealthy, bordering on unhealthy, but she’s great. I’ve met her quite a few times actually –
CRICHTON: Have you?
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah after concerts and things like that and through friends, we’ve been able to meet her and she’s just a great Aussie.
CRICHTON: She is.
PRIME MINISTER: She’s just a great Aussie.
CRICHTON: I’ve seen her live, she’s great live hey?
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah awesome, no her production stuff is also great, but I mean I’ve seen heaps of her shows. I saw her at Evita in Sydney the other week and she’s stunning in that. She’s, you know, a great theatrical talent, not just obviously a performing artist from a singing point of view. Yeah she’s a very talented lady, good on her.
CRICHTON: She is indeed. Now, ScoMo in the short time you’ve had the top position in our country, how have you managed your work-life balance, especially not just being the Prime Minister, but also an MP and raising a young family?
PRIME MINISTER: Well look, it’s a challenge for anyone who has a busy job. But honestly as PM, I’m sure that there are a lot of people out there who have a much more difficult task than me in terms of managing that. If you’re out there managing a mortgage and both parents working, you know, it’s tough. So look I’ve got my challenges, but I reckon there’d be people out there – heaps and heaps – who have a bigger task than me on that.
But look, you just keep the commitments to your family. I mean I take my younger daughter to the football during the season, we enjoy that. We cook a curry on a Saturday night. We just sort of always make sure that we honour those sort of family times together.
Now, in politics I’ve found that you can’t always do that, but if you make a promise to your kids you keep it and if you make a promise to your wife, you keep it.
CRICHTON: Love it. Now in your Maiden Speech, you highlighted how your Christian faith motivates your approach to politics. Can I ask you how does this play out in day-to-day policies?
PRIME MINISTER: Well I don’t see it as a policy handbook, that’s not how it is. I mean my faith is a big part of my life. It makes up who I am and so of course it’s going to impact on how I think about things. But I don’t look up Leviticus and try and work out what today’s policy agenda is going to be, that’s not how it works. It’s just part of who I am, like it is for millions and millions of Australians. I mean, faith is a big deal for millions and millions of Australians and that’s why I’m quite passionate about protecting religious freedoms in Australia. I mean if you don’t have freedom of faith, then what freedoms do you have?
PRIME MINISTER: I mean what is more fundamental than what you believe as a person, as a family? And subject to the laws of the land, you should be able to live out those beliefs and raise your children in accordance with your beliefs.
CRICHTON: Yeah, so good. Now, you’ve said you will take charge of the federal Government to ensure it can put its best foot forward at the next election, I’m assuming coming up in May. Can I ask you, what is your main hope for Australians in, say, the next three years?
PRIME MINISTER: Well look, I’ve always believed that it is the government’s job to enable Australians to achieve their visions and their dreams. It’s not my job to go and tell Australians what they should be doing. They know what they want to do. They’ve got their own plans. They’ve got their own visions and their own dreams. It’s our job as a government to ensure that we don’t get in the way of that and we enable it wherever possible.
The three things I’ve highlighted is that I want to keep the economy strong - because if you don’t do that, you can’t afford Medicare, you can’t afford affordable medicines through the PBS, you can’t afford the pension, you can’t afford any of that. A strong economy is what delivers all of that. So I’m going to keep the economy strong and we’ve had record jobs growth under our government. We’ve got 150,000 people off welfare and into work. When Labor was last in power, there was over 200,000 people, they got off work and into welfare. So, if you want less people in jobs and more people on welfare, well, vote Labor, because that’s what they do.
I want to keep Australians safe. That’s a very important objective of a national government, whether it’s protecting Australians from the threat of international terrorism or basically doing what we can to ensure kids aren’t bullied in school. Keeping Australians safe, and in their homes as well, we put a lot of money – hundreds of millions of dollars – into protecting women and families from domestic violence and the threats of that.
And certainly, I want to keep Australians together. I think Australians want to work together. I think they’re tired of having to fight about everything. I mean politics has been so much like that - and you know, there will be still things we disagree on in politics, I mean politics is a passionate business and it’s based on the things you believe – but I want to see us focus more on what we can get done.
CRICHTON: Well on that, what would you say to people who feel a little bit disillusioned or even cynical towards Australian politics and politicians at the moment?
PRIME MINISTER: Take a fresh look. I can understand why they feel like that, I think Australians have been turning their sound down on Canberra now for some time and not just politicians by the way. Not just government or even the Opposition, I think the minor parties as well. I think they’ve seen all that politicking and they’ve seen how the media carries on and they seem to be an expert on everything. I think Australians have tuned out to a lot of that.
What I’m seeking to do is reengage Australians on the things that are really important to them. Like in Western Australia, a fair go for those who have a go – that’s one of my mottos. That means the GST should be a fair deal for Western Australia. And that’s why I’m doing it, I just believe it’s right. That’s why I’m passionate about it. I’m determined to see that it gets done and that it gets legislated. So I think Western Australians can trust me on this, because I’ve demonstrated that I mean it, I believe in it. And yeah there are people in some of the other states who raise concerns, but it’s the right thing to do.
If you want to get things done in this country, you can’t just fall over every time someone raises a concern. You’ve got to know what you believe in and you’ve got to pursue it.
CRICHTON: Yeah. Finally Prime Minister, what kind of legacy do you want to leave on Australia from your time as Prime Minister and how would you want to be remembered?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, the biggest thing for me when I came into Parliament - I gave my first speech and I talked about a country that would be stronger, a country that would be prosperous, a country that would be generous. And an even stronger Australia, I think, amounts to those things, what I’ve been saying; a country that is strong in its’ values and its’ economy and the services that it delivers. A country that is safe and a country that is together.
So strong, safe and together, that’s what I’m working towards and I believe that’s what Australians want to see happen. That’s why I believe going forward at the next election, they will trust us. They will trust us because that’s what we believe in.
I’m enjoying the opportunity now as Prime Minister to get out and have that chat with people and I really appreciate the warm response I’m receiving, particularly here in WA, even for a bloke who doesn’t know anything about AFL.
CRICHTON: Now finally, before I let you go, would you like to introduce the next song coming up? Which is of course, I had to put it in for you, Tina Arena. Look, it’s one of my favourites, it’s Sorrento. Would you like to do that for us, before you go?
PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely. This goes back to her Don’t Ask album.
PRIME MINISTER: That was one of the first, when she really started to crack through and other great songs on that, the Chains was one of her big anthems which she always belts out towards the end of her set. But Sorrento Moon is a beautiful song. Jenny and I love this song, it’s one of my favourites. When I hear this song, I often think of Jen.
CRICHTON: Well could I get you to say, “this is Mornings with Mike and our next song is Tina Arena and Sorrento Moon”? Ready to go?
PRIME MINISTER: I’ll give that a go.
CRICHTON: Okay and I’ll start playing the song alright, you ready? Away you go.
PRIME MINISTER: This is Mornings with Mike, I’m ScoMo and this is Tina Arena, Sorrento Moon.
CRICHTON: Nicely done!