Thursday, 12 July 2018

6PR – Mornings with Jane Marwick



Subjects: Electorate announcement Toodyay; WA GST; parole;

JANE MARWICK: He's a regular guest with Gareth Parker; the Attorney-General Christian Porter joins me once again. Good morning, Attorney-General.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Good morning, Jane.

JANE MARWICK: I hear you're on a bus. It doesn't say Save Moora College down the side, does it?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: No. It might have had that as the next paint job. It's got a big Porter Transporter sign, it's our campaign bus. We're actually heading out to Toodyay today, so another good announcement for rural WA. The Federal Government's going to fund a major pool and recreational complex up at Toodyay. So, we'll be making that announcement in the next 40 minutes, but great for the people up there. But still supporting Moora. We've got to look after all of these communities just out of the Perth suburbs and they need good schools, they need rec centres, they need appropriate facilities. Got to keep fighting for them.

JANE MARWICK: Yeah, indeed. And look, the feedback from I think the people from Moora were absolutely overjoyed to hear a federal politician of your stature supporting them, and everyone knows I absolutely support them to and hopefully we can save that school and help those kids and that community. Tell me, if you're on the Porter Transporter heading out, what are the crops looking like? Whereabouts are you at the moment?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Just heading through the Swan Valley at the moment….


ATTORNEY-GENERAL: …Pretty green out here. So we haven't quite hit the canola fields yet. But I understand- I Mean, there's been some parts of the Wheatbelt that have been a bit underdone for rain. But in my electorate, which is really central Wheatbelt, it's not been too bad. So, you know, everyone's got their fingers crossed every year to make sure that there's a good crop and that things happen when they're supposed to happen. But it's hard business farming here.

JANE MARWICK: It sure is. We've had some reports though from people through, saying the dams are filling up and things are looking good. Now, you've written a letter to the paper today. Your letter is in the letters to the editor, not as an opinion piece, where you say that Mark Riley - who's one of the columnists in the West Australian and at Channel 7- misleads readers about the fundamentals of the 2011 and '12 West Australian budget when you were state treasurer. Do you want to take us through that?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Well look, l like Mark Riley a lot. He does some great work. I think this one wasn't one of those pieces of great work. Basically his thesis was that back into 2010, we 'baked in" to the budget spending based on an assumption that we were going to get the GST fixed.  And of course at the time, Julie Gillard had set down a review and she'd effectively promised the review would develop a fairer sense of distribution. So, we were certainly taking her at her word. We didn't afterwards, but we did at the time, and we considered that it was likely that there would be a fix to the GST. But of course, it didn't eventuate until last week when we ourselves did it, but we were hoping for the best, but definitely planning for the worst. And the idea that we baked spending in, anticipating or presuming that there was going to be a GST fix just isn't true. And in fact, that budget, we'd inherited from the Gallop Government recurrent expenditure growth over 8.6 per cent, I think. And the last year of their spending was 13 per cent and I got it down to 3.7 per cent. I mean, we were making tough decisions back in 2010 to try and get the recurrent expenditure down because we knew we were the only people actually predicting that you'd have this big and sharp GST fall. So I think, just a little bit of history there would prove that that Mark Riley piece wasn't quite correct.

JANE MARWICK: What's the feedback been like about the GST announcement a week on?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Well two things. The feedback in the community has been absolutely fantastic. People are so pleased that finally there's a solution on the table, that the solution means that the formula's fixed, so that inherent injustice and inefficiency of the distribution system gets fixed, that WA comes straight up to a floor, that we're billions of dollars better off. So, the first thing is that the general community's incredibly pleased and they've done a great job helping us get here. The second thing is it's a week later, and the Labor federal members still haven't come out to support the solution. I find it just astonishing that at the critical moment, where the state needs them to stand up and show some courage and support the solution, they've not been able to do it. So, they should be able to answer this very simple question - do you support this solution to fix the GST? And a week later, they still haven't been able to do it. I just find it incredible.

JANE MARWICK: Do you think it's been a good political wedge?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Well, I mean it's not about politics; like it's about solving a problem. And it's taken a long time to solve the problem. I don't want there to be a wedge, I want these guys to come on board and support the solution because if they support the solution and put pressure on their leader Bill Shorten to support the solution, then we can lock this thing down, we can fix the formula, we can fix the floor for WA and we can move on to other things. So, it's probably the critical time in the political career of Matt Keogh and Madeleine King and others to actually stand up for their state and put pressure on their leaders to support this solution. But a week's gone by and it's just crickets. And then what's even more annoying is you've got guys like Matt Keogh coming out, trying to claim credit for this solution, saying the reason that we're here is because all the great pressure they've put on, which is frankly just bulldust. But at the same time as they're trying to claim credit for it, they're not actually supporting it. And I just think it's time for them to be called out…

JANE MARWICK: I thought…

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: …by the media, by people in the community. It's ridiculous.

JANE MARWICK: I thought Matt Keogh was going to - the last thing I saw him say was that they were going to go and look at the detail; I'll follow that up and see…

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Well, why is it that everyone else can look at this announcement and support it based on all of the detail that's already out there, and it's taken them eight days, and we still don't have an answer? Like, how hard is it to work out what's going on?

JANE MARWICK: Why aren't the Liberals running a candidate in the Seat of Perth?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Well, that was a decision made some time ago. I think the effective answer to that question is resources. We were facing Darling Range, by-elections around Australia which weren't anticipated. And the decision was made at the time that we simply didn't have the resources to fund the campaign. Now, people have a variety of views about the wisdom or unwisdom..


ATTORNEY-GENERAL: …that decision but it was out of my pay grade.

JANE MARWICK: Okay right, I think it was a mistake but anyway. One of the other stories that's been reported - and I think people will want to know your thoughts on this - you've refused to let out a juvenile terrorist offender locked up in a youth detention centre, saying it's an unacceptable risk to the - the person is an unacceptable risk to the public if released. What can you tell us?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Look, not a huge amount. And the reason why is that when it's a juvenile offender, their identity is protected and I can't go too much into the reasons without sort of giving the game away as to who it might be, with respect to their identity. But let me say this; that my foremost concern is the protection of the Australian community as Attorney-General with these parole decisions on terrorist offences. And whether you're a juvenile or an adult, the level of danger that can accompany someone who's been radicalised, charged and convicted and been considered for parole is very, very high. And that's the case whether you are an adult or a juvenile. And there are five juvenile detainees charged with terrorist offences now and there were zero in 2015. So it is a huge problem and I can say safely that I received a range of information and advice and views from relevant participating agencies and all of them supported the decision to not allow parole in this instance. So my primary concern is the safety of the Australian community.

JANE MARWICK: Christian Porter, enjoy that bus trip on the Porter Transporter to Toodyay. And I hope you see some beautiful green rolling pastures on your way out there.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: We're seeing it very slowly, Jane. Estimated time of journey is about three hours. So it's not the swiftest way to get out.

JANE MARWICK: It's not but it's the best. Thank you.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Absolutely, cheers. Bye.

JANE MARWICK: There he is. Christian Porter, the Attorney-General. Very, very happy about the response to the GST.