Triple M, Melbourne

07 Sep 2018
Prime Minister
Leadership; Religion; Infrastructure

EDDIE MCGUIRE: It is an honour to welcome to the Triple M studio this morning the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison. Prime Minister, welcome to Triple M for the first time.

WIL ANDERSON: We need to turn on your microphone though Prime Minister, we haven’t done that. So now we have, you don’t have to do it.

PRIME MINISTER: You had one job Wil.

ANDERSON: You’ve been silenced. [LAUGHS] You’ve been in the job for two weeks now, how long to go?

PRIME MINISTER: To the next election and beyond.

ANDERSON: Ok good, good to hear.

MCGUIRE: Prime Minister, can I ask you a serious question? Are you getting sick of, in the first couple of weeks that you’ve been involved, just getting distracted by all sorts of spot fires? Because I’d like to ask you, what’s your vision for Australia? What do you want to do? You are the Prime Minister now, you’ve thought about… probably didn’t think you were going to be Prime Minister this quickly, but you’ve got the hands on the steering wheel, where do we go with this country? Because we here, and most of the Triple M listeners think, that we have vandalised Australia over the last ten years with no leadership in Canberra.

PRIME MINISTER: It has been a pretty… very difficult last decade actually, on both sides of politics. There’s a new generation of Liberals now running the show. That’s no disrespect to the previous ones but, you know, we really do want to start with a new culture and a new way of doing things. I spoke in Albury yesterday, which is where the Liberal Party was actually formed, almost 75 years ago. I talked about wanting an even stronger Australia which focused on three things. You’ve got to keep the economy strong, because if you don’t do that, you can’t pay for anything. Whether it’s Medicare, the NDIS, the pension, affordable medicine, you’ve got to have a strong economy and we’ve had great growth figures again just this last week which shows we are really achieving that as a country. You’ve got to keep all Australians safe. If that’s on our borders, if it’s where our soldiers are defending our values overseas, or it’s here on the streets whether in Melbourne or Sydney or anything else. Safe from bullying, safe from everything, keeping Australians safe. And largely I talked a lot yesterday about keeping Australian together. I think Australians have had a gutful with people fighting with each other over everything. There’s practical things we need to do, and if you love Australia, you love all Australians too.

LUKE DARCY: Prime Minister, we’re getting to know you a little bit. We’ve seen that you’re a massive Cronulla Sharks fan in the NRL and are impressed with some of your moves, you’re out there playing and looked athletic and moved well. You’re a self-described ‘happy-clapper’, what is a happy-clapper, just out of interest?

PRIME MINISTER: Well it’s not how I describe myself, look I’m just a… I go to church on a Sunday.

DARCY: What branch is…

PRIME MINISTER: It’s called the Australian Christian Churches, it is part of the Pentecostal Churches and they’re a wonderful group of people who love God and love each other and love other people. They just want to be a positive influence in the country. It’s just like the Baptists or things like that, we’ve just got often better music.

ANDERSON: You said you were going to pray for rain and since you said that it actually has been raining a lot so we’ll give you… I had my doubts about that as a policy, I’ve got to be honest with you Prime Minister.

MCGUIRE: It rained in Albury, it rained at the MCG last night…

ANDERSON: I’ve been praying for an au pair, can I have one, you giving them out?

PRIME MINISTER: I’ll let you look after your own babysitting mate, and Gil as well.

DARCY: And that fact that you’ve got no kids is a bit weird too.

ANDERSON: [LAUGHS] Whatever, I just thought I could have one for around the house.

MCGUIRE: Prime Minister, can I ask you, as a God-fearing Prime Minister, how hard is it to divide as a churchgoer and someone who is deep into his religion, and many people ask so that’s not a knock that’s a direct question, and being the head of a secular country? Because a few of our Prime Ministers, and Tony Abbott struggled between his views and the views of greater Australia, because when these issues like same-sex marriage go to the electorate, the electorate overwhelmingly have supported them. How hard is it to make that divide? And this is a question that was asked of John F Kennedy back in the 1960’s, so I’m just asking of you?

PRIME MINISTER: Look I don’t find it hard, I never have over the time I’ve been in public life. My faith is just who I am, it’s not my political agenda, it’s not the political party I’m a member of. I’m just trying to be honest about who I am, and people need to know that’s a part of who I am. But my job, my responsibility as Prime Minister, is to lead the country for all Australians. Every single one of them, and to respect all Australians. Whether they’re young Australians and the issues they’re concerned about, on issues like climate and so on, or older Australians who are concerned about their kids but also about their security and retirement. So it informs me, it helps me, it strengthens me, but it’s not my politics, it’s just what I believe.

MCGUIRE: Well we’ve just seen the far right of the Liberal Party, the religious right, knock over a Prime Minister, an elected Prime Minister. How can we…

PRIME MINISTER: The religious right had nothing to do with that, and that’s got nothing to do with it. This has got nothing to do with it.

MCGUIRE: I’m just saying though…

PRIME MINISTER: There isn’t a religious right, I don’t believe. I think that’s an American term which has no place in Australian politics.

MCGUIRE: I think we’ve been aping American policy for the last five years…

PRIME MINISTER: No we shouldn’t…

MCGUIRE: Tony Abbott spoke over there, was it last year, eighteen months ago?

PRIME MINISTER: He can go and speak wherever he likes. I mean…

MCGUIRE: And Kevin Andrews for that matter, he went over and did a speech over in America… I’m not trying to have a blue with you, I think it’s a reality. My point is, there seems to be a disproportionate amount of power with religious organisations in a secular Australian society.

PRIME MINISTER: I just don’t think that’s true at all. It’s just not true. I’ve been in a Cabinet for five years and that’s just not been an influence. I mean people can… you can say there’s been too much influence of the NRL in the Treasury portfolio because I love my footy, but that’s not what is driving policy. And so no, we’ve got to stop appropriating all this stuff from America and everywhere else, it’s not how we do things here. We’ve got our own show, we’ve got our own democracy, and it works differently to those other places. So it’s certainly not how I’ll run the show.

MCGUIRE: Great, well that’s good to hear, because it has been… in both parties by the way, there’s no doubt about that, that Julia Gillard was knocked over by the Shop Assistants Union at one stage there and the fact that she was…

PRIME MINISTER: [INAUDIBLE] …that Bill Shorten is union bred, union fed and union led, there’s no doubt about that, but anyway we won’t talk about Bill today, another day.

ANDERSON: Well Prime Minister, you must have known this question was coming if you’re media people brief you properly about the fact that you’re walking into Triple M, what is your favourite ACDC song?

PRIME MINISTER: My favourite ACDC song is ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top.’ [LAUGHS] If you want a sausage roll.

MCGUIRE: [LAUGHS] Are we going to play a song and come back with the Prime Minister? No we’re going to keep going. So Prime Minister, the next step for you, how hard is it for you in the run to an election to be able to start implementing what you need to do as the leader of the country before you go into caretaker mode?

PRIME MINISTER: Well there’s an election next year, so there’s plenty of time between now and next year…

ANDERSON: Definitely next year? You’ll go the whole term?

PRIME MINISTER: Of course I will, that’s… I think Australians want their government to do that. They would have been rightly pretty miffed with the way people were carrying on a few weeks ago… 

DARCY: Has to be by May though, doesn’t it, Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah for a half Senate election and a House of Representatives that has to happen by mid-May. So look, I’ve got no intention of going anywhere sooner than next year, and so we’ll deal with that at the time. But I’ve been part of this Government for five years, I’ve been the Immigration Minister who stopped the boats, I’ve been the Social Services Minister, now we have the lowest level of welfare dependency of working age people in this country in more than 25 years, I’m very proud of that. As Treasurer, we’ve had over a million jobs created. Today is the day that the Coalition was elected to Government five years ago. I pay tribute to Tony Abbott who led us back into government, and Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop who was the Deputy over that entire period. So I’ve been part of all of that and I’ve been proud of what we’ve been able to achieve. So we’ve got a lot of runs on the board but as I was saying yesterday, I need to explain to Australians why we’re doing things so that in the future, they’ll know how I make decisions.

MCGUIRE: I suppose that’s the thing that breaks your heart, Prime Minister, for us as your constituents is that we see that the economy is going well, we see all these things but for ten years we’ve been told that the sky is falling in on our head. Can we get some inspiration from up in Canberra to take us forward because business wants to go.

DARCY: And I think one of the most inspirational things, Prime Minister, I heard in recent times was our local Premier, Daniel Andrews, came in and has a vision for a 30 year rail project that was going to link the whole of Victoria around. I think the audience we’re speaking to this morning, the Triple M family, tend to be pretty excited by big ideas for Australia, not the sport of small bits and pieces and arguing over little bits of policy. Would you support something on that sort of scale, even though it is on the other side of politics?

PRIME MINISTER: I think people want Australian politicians to work together on big projects. The last time I was here I think we were talking about the Tulla Rail. That’s a big vision for Melbourne, that’s going to completely change the city over time and I want to work with all the state and territory governments right now. I’m particularly working New South Wales and Queensland on how we work together on the drought. One of the things about the drought, you talk about hope and you talk about vision, one of the first places I went was up in Quilpie in western Queensland. We’ve seen a lot of very despair-filled stories about what’s happening with the drought, but the thing… The reason I went there is that they’ve been dealing with it for six years, and the resilience, the determination, the optimism, the hope that was not only in the hearts of the people who were there but the farmers and so on. But in the towns as well, and they really appreciate how Australians are backing them in and that’s giving them a lot of encouragement.

ANDERSON: Now PM ScoMo, I had to say it, PM ScoMo…

PRIME MINISTER: Feel free, anyone, that’s quite fine by me.

MCGUIRE: See I reckon you should give ScoMo a rest.

ANDERSON: You don’t like it? I like it. I feel like I’m a ScoMo-sexual…


MCGUIRE: [LAUGHS] Now I’m back on board.

ANDERSON: I was looking over your shoulder…

PRIME MINISTER: [LAUGHS] That’s disturbing.

ANDERSON: …at the Today Show and they were having a little poll there that said the trust in politicians, 94 per cent of Australians didn’t trust politicians. Only six per cent did at the moment, of all sides. Bridget Northeast, who’s one of our producers here, you know less than 30 years old and she’s never voted for a Prime Minister who has seen through their whole term. How do we re-establish a trust in all politicians?

PRIME MINISTER: Look it’s day by day, week by week. I remember earlier this season, and forgive me again for an NRL analogy, but it was after the Sharks has a few ordinary games and Flanno, I was in the sheds, and he said to them, “Look, we’ve just got to put a good month of footy together.” You just put a good month of footy together and you get the momentum and you demonstrate to people what you’re about, what you’re doing and you build the trust. You’ve just got to build the trust. You can’t just turn up, and this is what I’ve said to my team. I’ve laid the law down, you know everyone is writing and carrying on about how they feel and all the rest of it… the Australian people couldn’t care less how politicians feel. It’s not about how we feel, it’s about how the Australian people feel, and that’s where I’m focused and that where I’ve been very clear that’s where I expect my team to focus.

MCGUIRE: Were you filthy when you came out, and you are a great Cronulla man, and that’s what I like about you, that you’re a Cronulla man. And don’t go getting an AFL team, that’s rubbish, just be a Cronulla fan, say yeah I keep an eye on the AFL, I like it when I see it but I’m a Cronulla man. But how about when they came out when week after you get up and you say I’m a great Cronulla man when you’ve been invested as the Prime Minister of Australia and they get done for salary cap cheating?

PRIME MINISTER: [LAUGHS] Well not this year, not the premiership year, and it was self-reported, let me say that.

DARCY: Don’t talk to Melbourne Storm fans down here about that, I’ll tell you what…

PRIME MINISTER: That’ll be a big game tonight, the Storm and the Bunnies, that’ll be a huge game tonight.

MCGUIRE: Who wins?

PRIME MINISTER: Oh look, you’d have to say Storm in Melbourne, I reckon. But the Bunnies have a big pack, a really big pack and a lot of talent so… I mean the Sharks have always done pretty well down here against the Storm, but they’re a very professional outfit. I’ve got to say, I really enjoyed last night, and you’re right Eddie. People say, “Oh why don’t you back the Swans?” If I was going to back the Swans I would have been backing them 30 years ago. So look I’ll just enjoy going to games. But I’ve got to say, that Dusty Martin kick last night, Dan Tehan was sitting next to me and he just said, “Mate, that’s as good as it gets.”

DARCY: Any advice for players on Mad Monday, Prime Minister, as we say farewell?

ANDERSON: In Canberra they have Tony Abbott running ‘Mad Monk Day’.

PRIME MINISTER: A, pants on.

DARCY: Let me write this down…

PRIME MINISTER: Pants on, brains engaged, I think that’s pretty…

ANDERSON: That’d be pretty good advice for Barnaby Joyce I’d imagine, Prime Minister. [LAUGHS]

PRIME MINISTER: He’s fixing the drought with me, so you leave Barnaby alone, you leave Barnaby alone. But you know, don’t be a Muppet.

ANDERSON: Again, that’d be pretty good advice for Barnaby Joyce.

PRIME MINISTER: He’s doing a great job.

DARCY: Prime Minister, we appreciate you dropping by the Triple M studio as you have done before, and great to catch up with you.

MCGUIRE: PM, we love having you on and the invitation we have to you as Prime Minister of Australia is to come on and talk to our people, not to come on and have ‘gotcha’ moments with us and we appreciate it this morning and we wish you the best of luck and health in running our country. Because we need a stable government at the top.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks a lot Eddie, thanks guys, great to be here.