OLIVER PETERSON, 6PR PERTH LIVE HOST: And from Federal Parliament in Canberra is the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, good afternoon, welcome to Perth Live.
PRIME MINISTER: G’day Oli, how are you mate?
PETERSON: I’m very well PM. Now the big stick laws allowing the government to intervene in the electricity market have been going through the parliament today.
PRIME MINISTER: Correct
PETERSON: But here in WA we’re not on your National Energy Grid…
PRIME MINISTER: No.
PETERSON: So how are 6PR listeners going to benefit from this?
PRIME MINISTER: Well they apply right across the country and what they do is they apply to companies that can use their market power and you’ve got big energy companies too like the rest of the country and where they’re seen and found to be doing that to punish customers, well there’s a range of remedies in this legislation which there are things the Government can do. Now it starts off at fairly modest level where the ACCC is the cop on the beat, they can issue warning notices, and infringement notices but that goes ups to civil penalties and fines and then ultimately if you have a big energy company that is doing this then there is a power for forced divestment but that’s in the most extreme of circumstances and if it’s a fully government-owned power company then it can only be divested to other fully government-owned, of ownership of that company, so there’s no issues of privatisation here. But look, what is it all about? It’s about trying to give the customers more power and to balance it up when you’ve got those big energy companies able to pretty much charge you where’ve they want…
PRIME MINISTER: We’ve been doing a lot of work for now for some years to try and just even the score up for customers.
PETERSON: Alright, ’cause as you just said the and here in Western Australia, state-owned, so would the Federal Government force the McGowan Government to sell the state-owned energy assets?
PRIME MINISTER: Well ultimately if it ever got to that situation I’m sure there would be a lot of discussion with the State Government in those circumstances and it may not ever come to exercising that option but the guarantee is, that no government-owned asset could be divested to anything other than full government ownership and the Commonwealth is obviously a government-owned entity.
PETERSON: Business says investment is going to dry up because these laws drive-up the risk that their investment will essentially be taken off them but don’t we need more investment in power to bring prices down. How’s this going to affect 6PR listeners paying less for their power?
PRIME MINISTER: Because it will even up the balance for them as customers in terms of how they deal with energy companies and we’ve been doing a lot of things on that front to ensure that things like the standard offers, the tricky late payment fees and all those sorts of things have been outlawed and we’ve been doing that for some time so I’m not surprised the big energy companies don’t like the idea that customers will have greater power in the market when dealing with them and of course they’re going to say those things, I’m not surprised by it, they always say that sort of thing and we’ve been able to overcome those arguments and getting full support for this legislation going through the Parliament now.
PETERSON: It’s been almost three months since you were here in Western Australia, you got any visits planned Prime Minister?
PRIME MINISTER: This weekend! And it could have been come to hear Tex Perkins play this weekend, I heard the ad before that sounded really good…
PETERSON: You’re a fan of Tex Perkins are you Prime Minister?
PRIME MINISTER: I love that album, Tex, Don and Charlie, I had it many, many years ago, and he’s a great Australian talent but let’s- getting back to the reason I’m coming which is Telethon on Saturday night, we’ve already put $10 million into Telethon over the years. It’s a great initiative, I get excited to see by how it brings a community together and gets the community focused on the really great charities and work that is done in Western Australia so we’re big supporters of it and we just want to come and lend our support on Saturday night.
PETERSON: Alright we’ll see you here on the weekend. Now Prime Minister, why is the Government obsessed with the budget surplus when you really could create some jobs by spending some dollars and pull the trigger on some job-creating infrastructure projects in Western Australia like Metronet for example.
PRIME MINISTER: We already are investing in Metronet and we’re already investing this year almost $10 billion in infrastructure all around the country. Our budget already is providing for massive investments in infrastructure as well as tax reductions for people right across the board. But you also need to ensure you have a budget that is good for tomorrow not just today. Now we are facing a lot of global uncertainty so, you know, this is what Kevin Rudd did when he was in power. He came in, panicked, blew the budget and we’re are still paying for it now. When people are saying we’re in Kevin Rudd’s debt they mean literally, the debt he left behind because he went and blew the budget. Now you know we had the stimulus funding for overpriced school halls, we had insulation and solar home programmes which cost $2 billion to implement and then $1 billion to fix, and then we had rooms actually catch alight, we had stimulus payments being sent to people who had actually deceased and even pets. Stimulus activity is proven to be ill-considered, poorly planned and results in massive waste which means taxpayers end up paying for it. It’s not free money, you have to pay for it and it’s taxpayers who foot the bill so we’re careful about our budget, we’re investing billions in infrastructure and we’ve provided additional support to the Western Australian budget, finally, by dealing with the injustice of what was occurring with the GST so WA gets that money now to be able to invest -n the priorities in WA and we think that’s the right way to do it. But that’s responsible economic management, not the panic and crisis that we saw from Labor.
PETERSON: Now we know it’s a national issue at the moment with low wages growth but particularly here in Perth, Prime Minister, and we get so many calls and emails, we’ve got a struggling Perth property market. Our listeners are particularly worried about being able to pay off their mortgages, can the Morrison Government reassure them?
PRIME MINISTER: Well the first thing you do is you don’t go and hit the property market with a sledgehammer by abolishing negative gearing, and putting up capital gains tax and the last election was very much about that. Could you imagine what would have happened to the Perth market if that had happened, it would have been an absolute disaster. But on top of that what we’re doing is ensuring that by investing in infrastructure, providing the tax relief that that’s putting the money in people’s own pockets and that’s not our money it’s theirs and we’re allowing them to keep more of it with our tax reductions for small and family businesses right across the board up to 50 million and that’s providing some breathing space for those businesses but on top of that for those who try to actually get into the market, of course we have a low interest rate environment at the moment but there’s still a really hard slog getting deposits together, for people to get into their first home. We’ve got the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme and the legislation for that went through the Parliament, that kicks off on the first of January this year coming. But the best way to ensure there is stronger wage growth, and we’ve had almost 1.5 million jobs created since we came to Government, more people working as a share of the population today than at any other time in our history. We’ve just gone three years where employment has increased every single month across the country and that’s happened every month for three years which is the strongest we’ve ever seen. Getting people into work, getting them off welfare, driving the economy forward with infrastructure investment and lower taxes.
PETERSON: Jobs, jobs, jobs that’s what Anne Aly said to me yesterday, the Member for Cowan and Prime Minister we could create more jobs by bringing the maintenance contract for the Collins Class submarines to Perth and remove that from Adelaide. Are you going to award it to WA?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, it won’t be done on politics, it will be done on the careful consideration of the issues that are involved in actually running what is a very important programme in our Defence Forces. I mean, this is not some prize to be handed out or decided on the basis of politics, I think that would be a very dangerous way to run Government, we’ll do this is in the careful considered policy of listening to the advisers, doing the analysis and making the best decision in the national interest.
PETERSON: It makes some sort of logistical sense though doesn’t it if the submarines are based here in Perth, if the maintenance could be carried out here in Perth, it’s a win-win is it not?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, these are things that will be reviewed by those experts, in providing the Government with advice about those projects and Linda Reynolds is the Defence Minister, a great Western Australian, very familiar with all these issues but the thing is we’re not going to do this on politics, we don’t defend the country and its national interests and keep Australians safe by allowing politics to enter into those issues.
PETERSON: Your Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton claimed this morning that some asylum seekers may be faking sickness over the Medivac changes, is that really happening?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, of the 135 people that actually came under this arrangement only 13 were hospitalised, so I’ll let you make up your own mind. We didn’t think those laws were necessary when they were introduced, we did think they would undermine the border protection regime and we do think it should be returned to what we had in place before which was working. I don’t understand why Labor always wants to be break something that’s working and they never learn from their mistakes. Doctors were already involved in the process that we were running previously and that programme had been effectively bringing people to Australia where there was legitimate medical need but Labor, whether it’s on border protection or blowing the budget, doesn’t seem to have learnt anything from what they did. I know it was six years ago when they were in Government last but they don’t seem to have learnt anything still, since, because they are still advocating the same policies.
PETERSON: Prime Minister, if these so-called “Isis brides” undergo a DNA test and it’s proved that they are Australian citizens will they be brought back home?
PRIME MINISTER: Well there’s a lot of steps and there’s a lot of events that occur before you even get to that situation. The part of Syria where people are who are alleged to be Australians, they are in a very dangerous part of the world and there’s no suggestion that Australia is going to be running any extraction campaigns. It’s too dangerous, I’m not going to put any Australians in harm’s way. Now, were people to find themselves at border points and things like that well there’d be a normal process that would be followed but it would obviously be necessary to ensure that it was very clear about what any obligations Australia had at that time before going down that path.
PETERSON: A lot of our listeners don’t want these people to return home but one of our callers suggested in the last hour suggested that we’ve lost our generosity of spirit if we don’t allow them to return home, I mean after all they are Australian citizens Prime Minister?
PRIME MINISTER: Well that would have to be determined and that would have to be established.
PETERSON: Are you happy to see Justin Trudeau returned as the Canadian Prime Minister?
PRIME MINISTER: You know I’ll talk to Justin tomorrow, I’ve worked with Justin over this past year at many of these events, I congratulate him, it was a very tightly fought election and he’s a pretty effective campaigner, very effective no doubt and at this stage it’s not clear whether he’ll form a minority government or majority government. But you know Australia has a very good relationship with Canada, it’s like with any of the countries we have a great relationship with. Our job as leaders is to ensure we manage those relationships well and take them to the next level and I get on very well with Justin and his wife Sophie, Jenny and I have met them on a number occasions now and we progress issues we can agree on. Justin and I, I wouldn’t say have the same political views on some issues but they’re things we can set aside where we work together on the relationship for the good of both countries.
PETERSON: One more before you go, I picked up The Aus this morning, now how confident are you of crushing Anthony Albanese because according to Troy Bramston in The Australian you want to take us to an early election but please tell us that’s not the case because we just had local council elections over the weekend…
PRIME MINISTER: I don’t know what on earth he’s basing that on, I’ve got no clue what he’s basing that on. You know we’re elected to govern, and that’s what we’re going to do. I’m not at all interested in elections at the moment, why would I be? We’ve just been reelected just recently and we’ve got a big term of work to do and that’s exactly what we’re going to get on and do, and we’ve got, particularly over on the eastern states, we’ve got the terrible issues of the drought, we’ve got the global economic conditions which has got us very focused on dealing with those varying infrastructure projects over in the West which I was talking to you about and getting those done. We’re delivering the highest level of education and hospitals funding that we’ve ever seen, we’ve got to get the NDIS up and happening and on very sensitive issues like we had in the Parliament this afternoon, it’s a year since the national apology for the survivors of institutional child sexual abuse and we’ve got a lot of work to do there on the redress scheme and getting that redress out to people who were affected by that. So my to do list is big and it’s full and there’s a lot to do and we’re just getting on with it. I’ll leave Labor to their own crisis and panic, they seem to be having their own problems. But I take nothing for granted and have head down, tail up doing the job.
PETERSON: Alright, before you go one very last one as I know you’re a Rugby League fan, we would love a team here in Perth, would it have the Prime Minister’s backing to bring the West Coast Pirates into the National Rugby League?
PRIME MINISTER: The West Coast Pirates? Well look it was some years ago when there was a Western Australian team…
PETERSON: Yeah the Western Reds.
PRIME MINISTER: and I’ve got to tell you when I came over for the State of Origin this year that was awesome, that was just simply awesome and it wasn’t just because New South Wales won but it was because the way the Perth crowd took to the game and that is now the record for the stadium. So I’ve got to tell you Western Australia certainly put their best foot forward. I’ll leave the running of the NRL to the NRL though, and Todd, and I’ll keep a focus on my Sharks, they’re staying at Cronulla I can assure you they’re not going anywhere.
PETERSON: The “Perth Sharks” has a good ring to it though as well?
PRIME MINISTER: No, they’ll be on the east coast but in terms of pirates or things like that all I would say is that I thought that was a phenomenal event in Perth and it wasn’t just the day of the game and it was the lead up all week and Perth is really just an awesome event city and it’s really establishing itself on that basis and I’d say well done.
PETERSON: We’ve got the NRL Nines as well next year too, Prime Minister we really appreciate your time on Perth Live this afternoon and welcome you here later in the week thank you very much.
PRIME MINISTER: Looking forward to coming, good on you Oli, cheers!
PETERSON: That is the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison live on the line from Canberra.