The Bulletin

Scott Morrison interview with Ray Hadley

  • Written by Ray Hadley & Scott Morrison

RAY HADLEY: Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He's been very, very busy, but he's got some time to talk to us right now. Prime Minister, good morning to you. 


PRIME MINISTER: G’day, Ray, sorry I couldn't get on earlier. It has been a very busy morning, as I'm sure everyone understands.


HADLEY: No, there's no apology required here. I mean, you're running the country and I think you've been dealing with international matters as well as domestic matters. And we have many, many Australians of Lebanese origin who are most concerned as this death toll keeps rising after that explosion. For all the world, it looks like some sort of dreadful accident. Have you got any other information on it?


PRIME MINISTER: No, I don't. Not at this point. And the latest information I have is that the casualty figures are at least 63 fatalities and 3,000 injuries. I've seen, as I'm sure most people have, the vision of this blast. It was quite, quite extraordinary. And the number, I mean, there's 20,000 we understand people who are Australian residents, dual citizens and so on who would normally be in Lebanon. Now, that may be less because of COVID and people coming home and things like that or they may not be. We don't know. But obviously, I can understand  the high level of concern in the Lebanese community in Australia. The number to call is 02 6261 3305 for people seeking urgent consular assistance for Australians. I'd also note, as I did on the morning programmes today, that our Embassy was affected as well in the blast. And so, obviously, we've got our own challenges in securing our communications there and they're there, but all our people are fine. But you’re obviously dealing in what is a very difficult set of circumstances and it's just, it's heartbreaking. I mean, there has been a lot of heartbreaking news lately, Ray, 2020 has been quite a shocker. 


HADLEY: Yeah it has been a shocker. Now, while you've been locked in, Annastacia Palaszczuk has decided - and no one's going to blame her for this - that as of one o'clock Saturday morning, New South Wales and the ACT will be locked out of Queensland in all regards. And she's done that. We're about to hear, I think, from Daniel Andrews that we now have 725 more cases in Victoria. And just on that, I notice that and  I spoke to Dennis Shanahan about this this morning, you wouldn't have heard it, but you're copping plenty as a Federal Government from the Opposition. Now, I know it's about, you know, targeting people and trying to take advantage. You've been very measured. I've given you an opportunity on this programme to take a pot shot at Daniel Andrews on a number of occasions and you haven't taken that option. You've been very dignified and, you know, you basically the mantra is we're all in it together. Why would Anthony Albanese and the former leader, Bill Shorten, decide all of a sudden this is all your fault, as a Government, I mean?


PRIME MINISTER: Politics. It’s that simple. And that's why I just ignore it. I mean, honestly, engaging in self-serving political partisan point scoring is, I think, the public will make their own ruling on that. This situation in Victoria is extremely serious and the best way I can help is to help them get it right. Now, the media will do its job and that's what their job is and they'll ask questions and they'll make commentary and they'll do all that. Every politician understands that. But if politicians don't have something constructive to say or helpful to add to the conversation, then I think the public would prefer that they just allow those who have responsibilities to get on with the job and that's what we're seeking to do in as constructive a way as we can. 


HADLEY: I think people have to understand that just because you're Prime Minister of the country, you can't unilaterally walk into Victoria and say to Daniel Andrews and the Health Minister, ‘Look, we're here not to help. We’ve got to take things over.’ You've got to be invited and when you're invited and asked, you provide the support. But you can't simply walk into the place and say we're now in charge. 


PRIME MINISTER: No, we can't do that in any state or territory. Couldn’t do it in New South Wales, couldn’t do it in Queensland. And that's how that's how Australia runs. But I can assure you, we're pressing firmly on the supports that are needed and any issues that need to be addressed. These lockdowns in Victoria have a lot of consequences. In many cases, they're unintended consequences and we need to sort those out. In the last 48 hours, we've put a pandemic leave a disaster payment in place. Already today, I think, we've had over 350 of those calls being processed just in the few hours since we opened it up this morning. That payment, if other states and territories want to enter into it, then they can do that with the Commonwealth. But there's obviously a fiscal, there's a cost to them as well in doing that, which Victoria are meeting. So we can do that. Also, childcare this morning in Victoria, we ensured that there was a guarantee for parents and people working in childcare facilities and the facilities themselves. So we've had to move quickly to respond to their announcements and we have been doing that and we're working closely with industry to try and a) ensure that we can keep things flowing as best as possible in Victoria. But also, we have got to understand that in Victoria, there are major distribution centres that impact on the supply chains for the rest of the country. And so I have an interest there to ensure that those supply chains aren't cut to New South Wales and South Australia and everywhere else. So it's all hands on deck here, mate.


HADLEY: Now, in relation to what Annastacia Palaszczuk announced almost three hours ago, I mean, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I think you'd rather see the borders open rather than closed. But given what we have in Victoria and what Gladys Berejiklian has been forced to do in New South Wales, do you have an understanding of what Ms Palaszczuk is trying to do, protect her state from infection south of the border, so to speak?


PRIME MINISTER: She’ll make her decisions and I’ll leave her to explain them and the medical advice upon which it’s based. These decisions should be driven by that advice and nothing else and there should be transparency around that. I mean, the arrangements between New South Wales and Victoria came as a result of very open discussion between Gladys Berejiklian, Dan Andrews and myself, and then that then flowed onto, well, how are we going to manage those things on the borders, which has actually been quite difficult in a lot of those border towns. It is not without some frustrations. So, I mean, what happened, there was this incident of a returning diplomat. Well, I don’t think he was a diplomat, he was a contractor. 


HADLEY: No, security guard there. 


PRIME MINISTER: So the arrangement was that those diplomats who were returning into Australia, where they could go directly into a private vehicle and they're going to Canberra, and transfer immediately and commit to self isolation in their residence. But what happened with this is Queensland gave an exemption for people to go and get on a plane out of the Sunshine Coast and go to Toowoomba. Well, that's got nothing to do with the arrangements the Federal Government has. So, look, that's just what happened. I'll leave it to Queensland to, you know, put what they think is necessary in place. But I think we've all just got to be transparent about what the medical advice is, because obviously, when you put restrictions in place, they have a very real economic impact. I’m sure the Premier understands that but there's an accountability for the decisions we take and the transparency of how we make them. 


HADLEY: But strangely enough, even allowing for the mistakes that have been made by everyone, I mean, there are mistakes.




HADLEY: I mean, this was all foisted upon her by six of her own residents, three young women who went to Melbourne, came back, lied, and then three young blokes who went to Melbourne for a seven week holiday - I don't know how anyone in the current circumstances could afford a seven week holiday  - and did the same thing. So six Queenslanders have basically put Queensland into lockdown, that's what's happened?


PRIME MINISTER: Well, this was the same early on in the pandemic. I mean, the reason we had so many cases in the first wave was because people came home. It is that simple. And the quarantine arrangements were our first line of defence for returning Australians and we obviously shut the borders off to others who were coming to Australia and that was critical in surviving and doing so well out of the first wave. Now, we know what's happened in Victoria. That's a matter of public record about the quarantine issues there and what that's meant as it sort of moves through Victoria. So I suppose the point I'd make about borders is that they're not a substitute for having a strong public health response. And, you know, you can't just put the border up and think, oh, well, we'll be fine back here. We don't have to social distance. We don't have to be careful about how we engage in workplaces. And, you know, we can all shake hands and hug up here. No, you can't. You've still got to do all those things. Your tracing capability, which I've got to say in Queensland, proved to be very, very effective. That's what really, I think, protected them and particularly some aged care facilities in Queensland and that was very well done. I'm happy to commend the Queensland government on that. So I think you've got to realise there's all these protections and one is not a substitute for the other. 


HADLEY: Do you get frustrated, like everyday Australians who contact my program, about the numbskull behaviour you see, I mean, you know, and I'm not blaming younger Australians because there are other older Australians. But there's people who don't seem to get it. And I mean, we still got people in the mainstream media telling us it’s just the flu, it’s not a problem, despite all the deaths in Victoria, despite 725 again today. And you know, the fact that because they didn't behave as they probably should have in Victoria, we’ve got a whole range of problems. Do you get frustrated generally about people's behaviour and the opinions of people that should know better?


PRIME MINISTER: Well, look, it’s a fair question. I think everyone feels frustrated. But no one elected me to be frustrated. They elected me to get on with it and deal with it. But I can understand people's frustration, Ray, and I've been trying to sort of make this point to Victorians. And there'll be things that will still lack clarity. There'll be confusion. There'll be… it will feel unfair and in many cases, it is unfair. But we've got to try and push through it and get through it and I think that's the attitude we have to adopt. I mean, the one thing, though. I mean, where I've seen this tried to be turned into some sort of ideological thing, I just don't get that. And what happened to that poor police officer in Victoria. I mean, I just said on television this morning, people have got to get real about this. I mean, the absurdity of someone protesting their liberty by offending someone else's by thumping them in the head. I mean, seriously. Get real. 


HADLEY: Exactly. Anyway, look, you've got a big day in front of you. It's only just started, really. We're only halfway through it. So I appreciate you coming on the program and I appreciate you've had a very busy morning and we'll talk again soon. And all I can say is, thank God you're doing what you're doing because without you and your colleagues, both federally and state, we're all buggered because we need leadership and that's coming in large lumps at the moment. So thanks for all you’re doing.


PRIME MINISTER: New South Wales is still looking pretty good, I’ve got to say, they've done a great job there and just that number again if I could Ray, 02 6261 3305 for all of those Australians who are concerned about their family in Lebanon. Our hearts really go out to you, you and I know that community very well and we know how ripped they’ll be on this. And I'm just thinking, I've spoken to some of my friends in that community this morning, it's bad, mate, it's really bad. 


HADLEY: Take it easy. Thanks very much. 




HADLEY: All the best. Thanks. Scott Morrison, Prime Minister.

The Bulletin Magazine

CBD Movers has announced that it will increase the number of locations in Melbourne throughout 2022

CBD Movers, a top-rated removalist firm based in Melbourne, is pleased to announce its arrival into suburban areas At, we...

The Bulletin - avatar The Bulletin

6 Simple Steps to Making a Worker’s Compensation Claim

Worker’s compensation is a severe issue. If you have a worker’s compensation claim, you can protect your legal rights by the law. You get injur... - avatar

The top spot: tips for choosing the best wedding photography location

The photo shoot is one of the most illuminating aspects of a couple’s special day. It’s the moment when they get to immortalise this most mome... - avatar