Thursday 9 July 2020
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Australian PM - 1 month ago

Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

Ray Hadley: It’s good to have your company, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison is on the line right now, Prime Minister good morning. Prime Minister: Good morning Ray. Hadley: You looked a bit chilly this morning in Googong, I ll bet it was cold, was it?  Prime Minister: It was freezing. But see that’s what tradies do every morning. So, you know, and they would have been out there early today right across the country. So my hat s off. It was pretty cold.  Hadley: Now, before we get into the serious stuff, I heard some some, a little exchange between you and someone. I thought someone might be standing on scaffolding, illegally, breaking some sort of rule. But I m told that someone was on some bloke’s lawn opposite you and he was blowing up. Is that right?  Prime Minister: It was quite funny because we were out there at Googong which is you know a housing estate like so many all around the country, and people are very house-proud and this bloke had just built his house and all the media was standing on part of his lawn that he d re-seeded. And so he wasn t yelling at me but he came and said ‘get off my lawn.’ So I ushered them all off the lawned area and he was quite happy then, he said thanks and went back inside. So it was, it was quite funny actually.  Hadley: I’ve got some mates who absolutely love their lawn and they find a cigarette butt or a match on it, they go into a state of conniption, that someone s left it there and so, Prime Minister: Absolutely.  Hadley: So I was laughing my head off about it. Now, the $25,000 package you ve spoken about for new homes up to $750 grand, and renovations. Yeah, I gleaned from your comments this morning, you may be a little worried about it being open to abuse, a bit like pink batts and all the other stuff we ve dealt with previously. What are your concerns?  Prime Minister: Well, look, like what happened with that programme all those years ago, you’ve got to make sure you ve got the licence trades people who are involved in this programme and that people don’t set up schemes just to take advantage of it. And it s one of the reasons why we ve put the programme at $150,000 or more on renovations. I mean, if it s if it s replacing every kitchen cabinet in the country, then, you know, someone s going to have a load of that there s no doubt about that. And I ve heard Anthony Albanese bang on about that today. They clearly haven t learnt the lessons from when they spent all that money all those years ago. So we ve been very careful about that. It uses the same systems that the state governments have when they do their new construction grants. So that s a well-established method. The other thing about the $150,000 too Ray, is that, you know, not everybody can go and build a new home. I mean, it costs about $350 grand on average these days to build a new home. And if you’re a, you know, a family that s busting at the seams and you can t afford to do that or, you know, you go through the whole process of selling and buying, particularly at the moment when they might be a bit nervous. The only option you ve got is to do a pretty substantive renno. And, you know, you re not going to get much change out of you know $150K on doing rennos of that size when you ve for to put an extra room on and everything else that happens. And this is really designed for these big works. It s not designed for these smaller programmes, you know, that, the doing the kitchen or doing the bathroom or whatever. This is about serious, larger scale building works where you get lots more trades in, you get a lot more people involved, and you get the flow one of the appliances and and all of that, and then the apprentices and the prefabricators and all of those trades that are brought into it.  Hadley: Yeah, I did get some emails saying the same thing this morning. What about a kitchen renno or a bathroom renno, and while people are well-intended, that then leaves it open to abuse. I mean, that s where, you know, you know, someone s going to do a home renovations themselves and I mean, that s when you start to have a problem. I understand that. Now there are conditions. And, of course, it s means tested, it’s about how much a year you earn per annum? Prime Minister: Yeah, $125,000 for an individual. $200,000 for a family. And that s the same rules we put around the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme. And we ve had 10,000 people take that up in the last 6 months, which is great. 10,000 people getting in their first home, which is just tremendous. And now under those same rules, I mean, that captures the real majority of households. They can access this as well. And this means that they can go ahead with that big renovation or go ahead with that home build, because - as a second - what the industry’s told us is once you get the other side of September, while there s a bit of work going on now, the you know, what s the next job? That s the question. And we re seeing that in the back end of the year, in the first quarter of next year, then that was going to really be a problem. We ll be down about 30,000 builds. So this is designed to address that and leverage, you know people who are, who had previously committed to it but have pulled back, this enables them to go forward again and to keep that pipeline of work. Hadley: Now in concert with first homebuyers, in most states and territories, there’ll be, I mean, it s a very good scheme if you think about an extra $10 or $15,000 depending on where you are. It could be $35 to $40 thousand that you’re going to subsidise those young people getting into their own homes. And as a father of young people currently getting to their own homes, I mean, they ve moved in already, if you know what I mean, because they could have benefited by that. However, it has a cut-off date and things have to start by July 4 and finish by a certain date as well? Prime Minister: You ve got to enter into a contract from now till the end of the year and then start work three months, no later than three months after it and the money gets paid to the homeowner. So that s another thing we ve built into it. So you know, the money doesn t get paid over to the contractor, which is what used to happen with all those failed schemes. So that s another thing we ve built into it to make sure it works properly. But yeah I mean, the programmes have got to start at some point with a licenced builder and all of those things. And you’re right the states and territories, they have a number of other schemes, usually for first home owners. But I know that a number of states will actually come in and back this in as well in their states with additional support. And what that means is it deals with two problems. I mean, if you re looking to buy a house, one of our other problems, if we don t build enough houses, then the supply is constricted and that forces prices up even in difficult economic times like this. And so keeping the supply of homes into the market actually puts downward pressure ultimately on house prices because you re increasing the supply.  Hadley: Now, just a correction. I said the 4th of July, I meant the 4th of June, obviously up until the 31st of December. Look, look, one of the things that I ve spoken to Josh Frydenberg about, many times, and we all congratulated the government hastily putting JobKeeper together and and, you know, and yeah, the figures were wrong, it came down by $60 billion to $70 billion and all the rest of it. I made the comment, well it would be worse if it was $190 [billion], not $70 [billion].  Prime Minister: We got a miss hit, a miss on the right side of the line. Hadley: Yeah, exactly. But allowing for that, one of the things that you impressed upon me and others at the time, it was there as a backstop for employers and employees. So we ve got people guaranteed an income until September. Even if the company’s not operating and then there was a guarantee that they would employ these people beyond that period. In other words, to give them some stability apart from the $1,500 a fortnight. So I scratch my head when I hear that the Rugby Australia organisation is cutting 30 percent of its staff who are being made redundant despite being on JobKeeper now were that may be legal and Fair Work may say that they can do that. I didn t think that was the spirit of what you and Josh Frydenberg crafted when you announced this? Prime Minister: Well, I, not so much correcting, but what we did is we bought people time and they had to keep people on for that six-month period. And that s what they re doing. And stay connected to the employer because what we didn t want to see happen at that time, because the uncertainty was just extraordinary. I ve never known a time like it. I mean, you didn t know what was going to happen the next day, let alone three months or two weeks from then. And so what we needed businesses to do was not go and make decisions to just lay a whole bunch of people off when, you know, circumstances could improve. Now, the economy has improved far quicker than we had anticipated. And that s a good thing that, we re not out of the woods, we re a long way from that, but we re in a far better position right now than we thought we would be. Now the key thing, I think for businesses looking out ahead now is that once everything gets opened up and we re making good progress to that, but we re not there yet. I mean the states tell me that they have committed to get all that done by, you know, a time in July. I m thinking mid July, businesses are then having had this time, have got to start thinking about what their businesses look like towards the back end of the year, next year, and making sort of some- starting to make some longer term decisions about, well, in a COVIDSafe economy, how many people can they sustain in their businesses? And then we need to sort of move through that in a transition, which keeps income support for people and makes that process as manageable as it can be. So it wasn t a permanent commitment for people, you know, beyond September. It was to buy that six-months of time. And in the meantime, get businesses going as much as we possibly can. So on the other side, they could take up and take forward as many of those employees as possible. And that s still the plan.  Hadley: So you re saying that once, and I’m just picking on Rugby Australia, there are many other large organisations that have done it. That have made people redundant, they still should receive JobKeeper until at least September when it finishes? The programme finishes as they said they would? Prime Minister: Yeah. And that s that s that s exactly as it s intended. And that s what s designed. Now, at any time at any time, people can make decisions about their own employment and they have to pay out people s entitlements and all of those sorts of things. And one of the reasons we did it was that if there d been a crush of employees losing their jobs and then businesses having to pay all those entitlements out at once, then the businesses would ve folded as well. And there’d just be nothing on the other side. And so what we ve, Josh and I ve sought to do is basically, you know, get a bit of a breather, some breathing space, allow things for people to get their, so their fix on the future and then make decisions in an orderly way and over time I mean, the economy is not going to be as big as it was when this started, even with everything opening up, because until we got a, until we’ve got a vaccine, we are still going to be operating at some level of restriction. And we need to get back as close to that as we can, now yesterday s economic numbers, of course, were really disappointing, but they weren t unexpected. Our economy has shrunk by 0.3 per cent in the quarter. But, you know, when you look around the world, it was up to almost 10 times worse than that in other countries, you know, places like France and Italy and indeed the U.K. and the United States and other places. So while things are pretty tough here, there s no doubt about that. You know that, Ray, you talk to people all the time, but I d rather be here than anywhere else mate.  Hadley: You re right. Now, I, you glean from when you mentioned the middle of July. And I think you re right. I think Annastasia Palaszczuk confronting an election in October, will probably open the borders sometime early-mid July. And I think that will make a big difference. I ve got a lot of listeners in Queensland at the moment some on the Gold Coast, some on the Sunshine Coast are eating the date s off the calendar, they’re just about on their knees. They’re gone.  Prime Minister: Yeah.  Hadley: And they needed some respite in terms of people coming from other states and territories to visit the Sunshine State. Do you think she will do it in July as opposed to, when she said, September?  Prime Minister: Well, I don t know, Ray, to be honest. I hope. I certainly hope she does. I mean, when we last spoke about this, I mean, when we set out the three step process together. July was the time when interstate travel was supposed to be up and running again. Now, that doesn t mean it needs to be there today. But what I would hope is that where states I mean, we never said there should be borders. That was never the health advice, it was never the agreement. There was never, that, that that was something they came up with on their own. Now, the problem with that is if if they leave it to announcing it in July, it means that people who might book a holiday for July, will have already booked it somewhere else, and they may be booking it in New Zealand if they re not careful. Because it s really important we get the planes flying again. One of the reasons I m keen on opening up this border with New Zealand again when we can, is it s going to mean the planes are going to fly and the more planes are flying, the more jobs. And, you know, Virgin’s success will depend a lot on, you know, these routes opening up again. And so if I get planes flying between Australia and New Zealand, I want them flying between New South Wales and Queensland and Western Australia and South Australia. When that happens, I mean those jobs in Virgin depend on ensuring that we open up our aviation industry and this is a blockage to that, and that s threatening those jobs.  Hadley: Look, I ve had my say about this young police officer in Sydney recently and the abuse levelled at him by the 17 year old, the challenge issued. And I think most of my listeners tend to agree with me, not with what else has been said. However, in relation to the protests that have followed what s happened in Minnesota, the dreadful conditions that are experienced now by American friends. I ve got a few e-mails, and this one comes in it’s from a person who says, look, I couldn t attend the funeral of a loved sister a month ago because of the virus worry, but I look now and there are hundreds of people in the streets of our cities holding disgusting signs about our police force, you know, ‘the best cop is a dead cop’ and all the rest of it. No social distancing, no masks, no nothing. So how is this allowed to happen when we are supposed to be observing certain protocols to protect our health? And that s the question. I mean, I don t expect the coppers to do what they ve done and go in with tear gas and, you know, belt people and get them off the streets. But there has to be some sort of responsibility from the protesters that they observe in some way, shape or form that the rules put in place by state and federal governments, surely? Prime Minister: Well, I do agree, I was asked that question this morning, and it s surely not beyond their wit to do this, observing social distancing requirements and all the rest of it. I mean, we re a free country. So the idea that we would stop protests, I think is something that would jar with Australians rightly. But at the same time, people have got to exercise responsibility. And at the same time, you know, we shouldn t be importing the things that are happening overseas to Australia. I m not saying we don t have issues in this space that we need to deal with. But the thing is, we are dealing with it and, you know, we don t need to draw equivalence here. We should just Australians about this and deal with it our way and we are. So we respect people s right to protest. But equally, protesters have to respect all other Australians in how they conduct themselves. And I think whether it s this protest or other protests, I think all Australians sort of are okay with there being protests. But when they see people inconvenience others just trying to get to work, or do things like that, well, they obviously get the irrits. And I think it’s important that everyone respects each other, because the reason why we re getting, I think, through this crisis better than pretty much anywhere else, Ray, is I reckon people genuinely have been banding together and supporting each other. And what we don t want is people dividing people. And so, you know, we don t need the divisions that we re seeing in other countries. We need to stick together and look after each other.  Hadley: You just took me back to my grandmother, who used to say, ‘That woman next door gives me the irrits’. We used to say, Nan, what s that mean? We’ve got the Prime Minister of Australia saying what my grandmother said 50 years ago. On a personal note, how is Jenny and how are the girls coping? Because, I mean, you and I say this and this is trying to be bipartisan. Every Premier, everyone in government right across the Commonwealth have been absolutely just on the job 24/7. And you have led the charge, with Annastacia Palaszczuk, Daniel Andrews and Gladys Berejiklian and all the others. But it comes at some cost to your family. So, I mean, how are your daughters and how is your wife coping with all of this?  Prime Minister: We’re getting there, mate, just like every other family. I mean, I m back down in Canberra now. They re back in Sydney. Hopefully I ll see them this weekend and that s just part of the job. I mean, FIFO workers do that all the time and being a Parliamentarian is a bit like being a FIFO worker, I’ve got to say, during normal times, you re away a lot. So I think we have some empathy, particularly of how their family lives work and it s a lot like that. But, you know, I’ve got a loving family. They re incredible. They, you know, I talk to them every day and then we FaceTime like all normal families do. And when I get home, I cook them a meal and Lily and I watched the footy on the weekend. I’ve got to say, it was good to have the footy back. It was just so good and it wasn’t a great result for the Sharks I’ve got to say. Hadley: No, of course self interest overtakes there. Prime Minister: It was still good. Hadley: Anyway, look, you’ve come a long way from being the round the grounds reporter of Southern Districts on the Continuous Call Team to leading in the country. And I commend you for what you ve done. You ve stood up, you’ve been counted and in this most difficult period in our history, we re lucky to have you there. Well done. Congratulations.  Prime Minister: Thanks a lot, Ray. Good to talk to you.  [END]

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