ALAN JONES: The Prime Minister is here, Scott Morrison.
PRIME MINISTER: Good morning Alan.
JONES: Now, you’re getting around, I didn’t know you were a rev-head?
PRIME MINISTER: I had great fun, Lilly and I had a great time yesterday doing the hot lap with Mark Skaife and coming down it was a bit like doing the Wild Mouse. So we had a great time and there were so many great fans there.
JONES: How old is Lilly?
PRIME MINISTER: She’s nine.
JONES: And she copped it too?
PRIME MINISTER: Oh, she had a great time and it was such a huge family event. I had never been before and families from all over the country -
JONES: 200,000 - It’s a lot of people.
PRIME MINISTER: It was just tremendous and to be out in Bathurst, you know, mid-western New South Wales, it’s great for tourism. They need that out there, they really do. Because we went to Blayney afterwards to announce the $1 million for every council affected by drought and Blayney is one of those. They’re doing their plans this week and getting them in, so that money will flow very, very soon out there.
Good to see a bit of a green tinge out there, but still a long way to go.
JONES: Absolutely. Do you believe in omens?
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah I wouldn’t say I’m superstitious, but I notice them.
JONES: Because Bill Shorten is the number one Collingwood supporter. Collingwood led all the way in the Grand Final and was beaten in the last ten minutes by the Eagles. Any omens there? You might still get up right at the end?
PRIME MINISTER: Well I go back to what Robert Menzies says; you fight until the bell rings. That’s what he said down in Albury.
JONES: I thought that’s when you started fighting.
PRIME MINISTER: Until the last bell, until that last bell rings he said. And whether it’s the final siren and if you’ve got to kick it from the boundary, that’s what you need to do.
JONES: I don’t want to be self-indulgent here, I will look at this and have quite a bit to say after 7.30 about this Opera House-Everest thing. But you have made the comment, you spoke about it yesterday: “I come from a tourism background, these events generate massive economic opportunities, I don’t know why people are getting so precious about it.”
PRIME MINISTER: Well it’s not as if their painting it on there, I mean it’s some lights flashing up there for a brief moment of time. That goes all around the world and they do it for other things, the Wallabies, indeed and others. So look, I just don’t understand why we tie ourselves up in knots about these things.
JONES: Of course, the Opera House was built funded by lottery, which some people forget, which is a form of gambling.
PRIME MINISTER: That’s ironic and that’s true and it’s maintained by the patronage of Australians and taxpayers.
JONES: We will be talking quite a lot between now and the end of the year at least, so we won’t cover all areas today, I just want to raise a couple of things with you here. This announcement last week by Mr Shorten, $1.75 billion over four years to provide preschool for three and four year olds, saying, “I want our children my children, our children, to be amongst the best-educated in the world”.
You’d be aware I’m sure that a research paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research in Canada has found - quite common sense really - poorer emotional outcomes for children who attended preschool in Quebec which introduced this Shorten-style universal day care in 1997. The research found worsened health and life satisfaction and sadly, increased rates of criminal activity, increases in hyperactivity. Aren’t parents the best teachers for children at that age?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, parents are the best for their children full stop. I mean preschool has a role to play, I mean, I went to preschool and we fund preschool for four year olds now.
But the problem with Bill Shorten’s announcement is, he doesn’t know how he’s going to pay for it. He couldn’t even agree on how much it cost within one day. What it means is higher taxes. See, every time you hear Bill Shorten say something, know this; it means higher taxes. Every time, he’s spending your money. Not the money that you’re currently paying now on taxes, because he’s going to increase taxes by over $200 billion dollars. On everything, from as Josh has been saying this morning, increases in taxes on housing, taxes on retirees, taxes on small businesses and family businesses. I mean the taxes just won’t stop under Bill Shorten. On this issue parents are the number one, the absolute number one. And their choices about how they want to educate their children are critically important. That’s why we have made the decisions and the support we have made on independent schools.
JONES: Could I just ask you though, about content. Now, Miranda Devine wrote yesterday about and an excerpt from a typical note sent home to the parents of a three year old at a northern Sydney preschool, which lays out a checklist of politically correct policies - these are three year olds – which are part of a mandatory preschool curriculum, which is required for accreditation. Sustainability, it said, we already have solar panels and engage in many environmental aware practices; reconciliation action plan, we’re currently working on an acknowledgement of country that we use each day with the children; Harmony Day, it’s a great day to celebrate our diversity, we encourage children to wear orange or orange accessories; and then of course this business about taking kids to the opposite sex’s toilets. Is this the sort of stuff you believe should be going on in schools while you’re Prime Minister? Gender ideology? Climate alarm?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I was Social Services Minister when preschools and more importantly child care was the responsibility of the Social Services Department. One of the big difficulties I had was, the Commonwealth Government paid for all this but had no say whatsoever about what the curriculum was, what the regulations were.
PRIME MINISTER: The state governments were not only bringing in a whole range of things like this, but they were bringing in regulations which forced up the cost of delivering child care as well. I think, you know, if you’re funding it, you should be able to regulate. Or if you want to regulate it, you should fund it and these two things should sit together. So the difficulty for the Commonwealth Government is that states can frankly run riot in this area, with no involvement from the Commonwealth. What Bill Shorten is saying is; “Well we’ll just keep throwing money at that.”
PRIME MINISTER: But he’s throwing your money at it. Always understand, when he’s saying he’s going to spend money, he is spending your money. We believe taxpayer’s money, is their money. Bill Shorten thinks what you earn is his money to throw around for political purposes. That’s what this is.
JONES: Well down the track we will talk about that, because it’s a big issue.
PRIME MINISTER: Sure.
JONES: I just want to come back - because you have made comments about your own girls - simply to say that you are concerned about what they are being taught in the classroom.
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah.
JONES: Those concerns are shared by all parents. How do you overcome this business where three year olds are getting manuals to their parents about, you know, gender and sexuality? They’re too young, aren’t they?
PRIME MINISTER: Well particularly on those things, it’s very early. I mean, my girls went to preschool, they went when they were three and they were four. They learnt about Harmony Day and sometimes people would come in and talk about their stories about migration to Australian and I think that’s all good. And it’s also important for them to have an awareness of Indigenous culture. I don’t have a problem with that.
But honestly, at the end of the day, preschool is about learning through play, preschool is about learning and getting on with other people of your own age and having fun. It’s not a big, long day, it can play a role. Parents have had the choice to send their kids to preschool, a lot of them are community-run as well and do a really good job. But you know, if you’re going to make a promise, you’ve got to know how you’re going to pay for it and you’ve got to know how you’re going to deliver it and you’ve got to have some sort of control about what’s going to be delivered on all those three things. As you’ve pointed out; cross, cross and cross for Bill Shorten. Three strikes mate.
JONES: Yeah the IPCC - this is the Achilles heel, I guess, for all or many governments in the Western World at the moment - are now making another report on climate change. You’ve disposed of this so-called National Energy Guarantee, you’ve turned energy debate from “renewable” to “reliable”. Shouldn’t we be seeking a simple national energy policy which makes us independent, because we’re resource rich? Shouldn’t the policy be about availability, reliability, affordability, national security, economic growth, certainly rational conservation and investor confidence?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, yes.
JONES: How do you get that by being a signatory to Paris?
PRIME MINISTER: Well it doesn’t change any of that, because we meet it all in a canter. So, I could ask this question –
JONES: So then rip up Paris.
PRIME MINISTER: No, no, what is to be gained from ripping it up?
JONES: Because you’re being held to the conclusions that will be released in the next 24 hours –
PRIME MINISTER: No we won’t, no we won’t be at all.
JONES: By all those who are signatories to this?
PRIME MINISTER: No we’re not held to any of them at all Alan, nor are we bound to go and tip money into that big climate fund, we’re not going to do that either. So I’m not going to spend money on global climate conferences and all that sort of nonsense, I’m not going to get in there -
JONES: But if that’s the case, why don’t you just say; “We’re out of it.”
PRIME MINISTER: Because Alan, for a couple of reasons. First of all when Australia signs up to something – and it wasn’t the previous Labor Government who signed up to this, it wasn’t the previous Labor Government that committed us to a 26 per cent target, that was actually our Government that did that. I was part of that Government and when Australia puts it’s word to something, it means something. The second is, as I’ve said on your program before, that this is an enormously important issue to our partners in the Pacific who are strategic partners in the Pacific. So my question is, what’s to be gained from ripping it up? I don’t think there’s much to be gained from ripping it up. I mean it’s not going to affect electricity prices, Angus Taylor has already told you that and that’s my view as well. So long as we’re not throwing money into some global climate fund and getting pulled around by the nose by all these international agencies when it comes to these other reports. I mean the same report that’s coming out today, said a year ago the policies were fine. You know, we’re investing in the Reef to ensure that’s secure. We’re taking the practical action that you need to take, but we don’t get led around by the nose by these organisations.
JONES: You said the Pacific, you mentioned the Pacific. The Pacific are rent-seekers.
PRIME MINISTER: I don’t –
JONES: These outfits are saying to you and Marise Payne; “Well, climate change is going to mean that we’ll disappear, we’ll be washed away and we need you money.” Now, Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement.
PRIME MINISTER: Obama signed up, not Trump.
JONES: No and he said it’d cost 2.7 million jobs, it’d cost 440,000 in manufacturing. He said the economic burden would be close to $3 trillion in GDP. Is there a document somewhere which will tell us, Australian taxpayers, what our signatory to Paris is going to cost Australia?
PRIME MINISTER: My understanding of it right now, at 26 per cent is it’s not going to touch electricity prices and it’s not going to touch one job –
JONES: Well we’ve got a story at the weekend, a headline story in The Australian which says in the summer, electricity prices are going to go up.
PRIME MINISTER: That’s not because of Paris.
JONES: No, no, no but I’m just saying, it’s linked to Paris. If we had, if you committed – how committed are you to cheap energy? For example, uranium, would you overturn the illegality of building a nuclear reactor in Australia?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, if I thought that this was going to have a big impact on Australia’s electricity prices -
JONES: It’s clean, it’s cheaper -
PRIME MINISTER: I’ll do what is necessary to bring electricity prices down. So I don’t have any issues -
JONES: So you’re not [inaudible]?
PRIME MINISTER: No I’m not, of course I’m not. The issues there are that –
JONES: [Inaudible] at the moment.
PRIME MINISTER: The investment doesn’t stack up. You’ve got to make the investment stack up. I mean I was down in Tasmania last week and I was down there at the Battery of the Nation project. Now, this is exciting, 2,500 megawatts of hydro currently, built between 1910 and the early 1990s in Tasmania, basically one of the biggest engineering projects Australia has ever seen over that period of time. Will Hodgman has a plan to double that capacity, put an interconnector between Tasmania and the mainland and that will double what Tasmania does in terms of reliable, fair dinkum power coming into the energy markets on the east coast of Australia. Now that’s another great project and I’ve talked about how excited I am about that project. The interconnector, the pumped hydro assets that go right across Tasmania, I mean Tasmania is the capital of hydro in Australia and it can be the nation’s battery.
JONES: But see, you’ve got an election coming up early next year. There’s a story in The Weekend Australian, on page nine, it said: “Soaring summer power bills predicted,” that “electricity prices on the east coast and in the southern states will spike”. Now, they’re going to blame you for this.
PRIME MINISTER: They can’t blame 26 per cent, because we meet that in a canter, that’s my point.
JONES: Well, but you’re guaranteeing lower prices and they’re saying they won’t be lower. The ACCC forecasts that gas prices will add $15 a gigajoule over summer, that’s four times –
PRIME MINISTER: I know and it would be great to get more gas out of the ground.
JONES: So, why don’t you have, why not have a gas reservation policy? Stop exporting all this.
PRIME MINISTER: Well we effectively do Alan.
JONES: No, but you don’t have, effectively. It’s not mandatory, it’s not a statutory requirement.
PRIME MINISTER: If we believe the gas is not going to be delivered in the quantum that is required in Australia, then we have a policy to prevent that. I mean that’s what got the gas availability for this year and for next year. And we need more gas from under our feet, there’s no doubt about that. In Victoria we have a state Government that has a ban on conventional gas exploration. It’s crazy.
JONES: But we’ve got enough gas to last us the next 174 years.
PRIME MINISTER: And we need more of it.
JONES: No, but we export the stuff, we’re exporting the stuff. Canada says; “Let’s have a gas reservation policy” I’ve used the analogy on this program before Prime Minister, you know, we’re on a dairy farm. Every day, my old man would say: “How much milk does your mother want?” We’d keep that for ourselves, to be used. Cheap, for nothing, because we milked it. Why don’t we do that with our own gas?
PRIME MINISTER: But we do, Alan. We have that policy now, we actually have that policy where we can ban those exports where the gas is not staying in Australia. That’s already been given effect to. What I’d like to see is revenue sharing with farmers to get access to gas. I think that’d be a great idea.
JONES: Just on drought, because we always run out of time here.
PRIME MINISTER: Sure.
JONES: Are you having a summit in Canberra for drought?
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah that’s where everybody can get to. I mean where you book the hall doesn’t matter.
JONES: Why wouldn’t you take it to the bush and have that injection, like you mentioned was happening at Bathurst? Go where there’s a dry paddock rather than Capital Hill.
PRIME MINISTER: I think the outputs of the summit are more important and that’s the most convenient for everybody to get to, coming from all over the country. I mean it is the nation’s capital and that’s where we deal with issues as important as this. Everybody will be coming together and we’re looking forward to all their contributions. But it’s important that we coordinate.
JONES: On that, coordinate. When are we going to see this bloke, the coordinator? I talk to farmers, they’ve never seen him. He comes out in an Army uniform, I mean he ought to be a civilian person. There’s thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars he’s being given -
PRIME MINISTER: I think he’s up in Broken Hill today, I think that’s where he is today.
JONES: There’s thousands of dollars given and farmers are saying to me: “We don’t see any of this money.” Where is all this money going?
PRIME MINISTER: Well it’s going into the Farm Household Allowance, which is the -
JONES: No, no, not your money, I’m talking about the charity. The money that is being raised by people, they’re giving it to all sorts of outfits.
PRIME MINISTER: This is one of the big challenges. It’s –
JONES: But that’s what the coordinator has got to be doing.
PRIME MINISTER: Well that’s what he’s seeking to do Alan, it’s easy, it’s not his money, it’s not the Commonwealth’s money -
JONES: Well, he should come public and tell a few people. Could you make him?
PRIME MINISTER: Sure, well not a problem. I think he’s pulled together the coordination plan and he’s been working closely with the charities whether it’s the Country Womens Association or the many other big charities which are out there directing effort into the bush and it has had to be targeting. Can I implore Australians, continually, if you’re making donations, do it through a registered charitable organization and through vouchers. That’s what makes the difference in the towns. We’re putting $1 million into every single drought-affected council to ensure that we can keep the money in the towns. That money is flowing as late as this week and that will make a big difference in those towns, keeping them alive. It’s one of the points Barnaby has been making and we’re delivering on it.
JONES: Good on you. Look, we’ve run out of time, let’s talk again soon.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks a lot Alan, great to be here.
JONES: You too, Prime Minister Morrison.