SUBJECT/S: Visa cancellations and New Zealand; superannuation; Newstart; FaceApp.
DEBORAH KNIGHT: We are firm friends and neighbours, but New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has accused Australia of damaging our relationship over Kiwi deportations. She’s set to raise the issue when she meets with Scott Morrison today for the first time since the election. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton joins us now along with Labor Leader Anthony Albanese. Fellas, good morning to you.
PETER DUTTON, HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER: Good morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning.
KNIGHT: Now more than 1500 Kiwi citizens have been sent back to New Zealand since 2014, when the Migration Act was changed, so that anyone who commits a crime attracting a jail term of at least 12 months can be deported. Peter, if it’s corroding our relationship, as Jacinda Ardern says it is, you’ve got to look at it.
DUTTON: This is an issue that’s been raised by, I think, every Prime Minister from New Zealand with our Prime Minister in the bilateral meetings for a long period of time. Obviously, we’ve got a very close relationship with New Zealand. They’re the only country where you can have a visa on arrival into Australia, everybody else has to get a visa before they come. But we’ve been very clear, if you come here as a New Zealand citizen, as a Brit, wherever you’ve come from, your country of origin is where you go back to if you’ve committed a crime against us.
KNIGHT: Corroding our relationship, they’re strong words that she’s using here.
DUTTON: Well, I can understand the view in New Zealand, but from our perspective, from the Australian perspective as well, we need to stand up for Australia. And the New Zealand Prime Minister is rightly doing that for her people, but where we’ve got Australian citizens who are falling victim in certain circumstances where people are sexually offending against children, for example, we’ve had a big push to try and deport those paedophiles and people that have committed those crimes. And I believe strongly that the Australian people would support that stance as well.
KNIGHT: A lot of these people, Albo, who were born in New Zealand but have lived their entire life in Australia, have absolutely no connection to New Zealand at all. Is this something that Labor wants changed?
ALBANESE: No, we haven’t argued for change in this area. We think that the balance is essentially right, but it’s legitimate if they are issues for Jacinda Ardern to raise those with Scott Morrison. We don’t want to see this to be a partisan debate. New Zealand is a very good friend of Australia.
KNIGHT: And we want it to stay that way.
ALBANESE: Absolutely, and I’ve had some good chats with Prime Minister Ardern. She’s invited me to Wellington and I’ll do that later this year to sit down and have a chat with her face to face.
KNIGHT: We’ll see what comes of the talks in Melbourne with the PMs today. Now, Nine News revealed that the Government wants to change the rules around superannuation, stopping employers from choosing funds for us. Many workers in retail, construction and in the education sector, Peter, have no choice when it comes to where they put their superannuation. And if you are wanting to change that, the questions are being asked, they have strong connections to the union movement. Is this just a case of union bashing from the Government?
DUTTON: No, it’s not Deb. It’s the only area where people are obliged to put their money into a particular company because of a default arrangement. In any other circumstance people can make a decision about where they put their term deposit, the bank they take their mortgage out with. And I think that choice is a powerful thing. It makes the companies more competitive, it will see fees reduced. And, you know, Albo’s got lots of mates, the CFMEU, one that gives lots of money to the Labor Party. But the industry super funds have union representatives on the board. So instinctively, the Labor Party will push back against this, but I think we’re fighting for consumers here to get a better outcome and particularly given the benefit of that compounding effect on their money, by the time people retire if you can reduce fees-
KNIGHT: But the industry super funds are the best performers and they’re given the the tick of approval by the Banking Royal Commission.
DUTTON: And if people choose to stick their money into that fund, or into another fund that’s better performing, or they like their asset classes that they’re investing in, that’s entirely a decision for the individual. And that’s what I think we empower through this decision.
KNIGHT: Can you fight choice Albo, surely it’s up to the individual?
ALBANESE: This Government just doesn’t like industry funds, that’s the truth. They don’t like superannuation. But what we know is that every single study, every figure, shows that industry funds provide lower fees, and better revenues for workers.
KNIGHT: But shouldn’t then it be up to the individual to decide?
ALBANESE: Well, yes, but we’re pro-choice, but we’re not about undermining industry super funds and we will examine any legislation that’s put forward in the light though of the Government’s obsession with attacking industry funds. We saw it from the former minister Kelly O’Dwyer, we’re seeing it again from this Government. How about they acknowledge that industry funds are doing very well for consumers, unlike, they were happy to defend the banks and the big end of town for a long period of time. Industry funds are good, workers have an interest in staying with them.
KNIGHT: Okay, now the Newstart allowance, it’s back in the headlines as well. We’ve had Barnaby Joyce, now joining the former Prime Minister John Howard, as well as welfare and some business group saying it’s simply not enough to live on. Newstart has not increased in real terms in 25 years, Peter. Is it possible, do you think, for a single person to live on the current amount, which is I think about $40 a day?
DUTTON: Well Deb, a couple of points here. I mean, firstly, we spend about $172 billion dollars a year on welfare. So one in $3 that we spend as a government we spend on welfare.
KNIGHT: But is Newstart, is it enough?
DUTTON: Well, Newstart is an allowance, not a pension. So if you go onto an age pension, you’re there from the age that you retire at up until you pass away. And many, you know, many people, 99 per cent of people, stay on that pension. So that is a different payment, and it’s a different criteria, if you like, than an allowance. The allowance of Newstart, given that two thirds of people come off Newstart within 12 months, the whole idea is to get people into work. We’ve got 1.3 million people into work since we came to government and the allowance is to provide support to people until they can find a job. And don’t forget that 99 per cent of people who are on a Newstart allowance get additional payments, either through the parenting payment, energy supplement or rental assistance. So it’s not just that base amount, there are other amounts that they receive. And people have worked hard to pay taxes. We want to make sure we can get people into jobs so that they can pay taxes as well and support those that are most in need.
KNIGHT: Will you pushing to change it?
ALBANESE: Well, it should be increased, that’s a fact. It’s not enough to live on. And the fact is, the first priority should be to get people into a job, but people shouldn’t be under the circumstance where they can’t afford to live and the Government needs to look at this.
KNIGHT: Now quickly before we go, we’ve got to do this, the FaceApp trend which is going on. We know that politics ages people and wears you out. Now this is a look at the younger and the the older version of Mr Peter Dutton. How about that. And Albo, we’ve had a bit of a play with your image too, what do we think? Goodness me.
ALBANESE: My goodness, that doesn’t look anything like me.
KNIGHT: What have we changed?
DUTTON: The one here is Albo at 55. So what if you fast forward to, say, 80, not a bright future Albo.
ALBANESE: What would work much better, if you had an app, I reckon, that made you look younger.
KNIGHT: We were trying to do that there.
ALBANESE: You could have got a younger photo, you know.
KNIGHT: No, we’re having fun, way more fun to do this.
DUTTON: You haven’t got a comb over in that one, that’s a big difference.
KNIGHT: All right, you’re good sports.
DUTTON: I decided to go the comb over.
KNIGHT: No hair jokes, no hair jokes.
ALBANESE: You’re struggling mate.
KNIGHT: Well done fellas. Good on you, thank you so much.
FRIDAY,19 JULY 2019
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.