ABC 774 Melbourne - Interview with Jon Faine

Release Date: 
16 February 2016
Transcript
E&OE

Topics: Human Services portfolio, work for the dole, Coalition frontbench, Goldstein preselection

JON FAINE:

Alan Tudge, good morning to you.

ALAN TUDGE:

Good morning Jon

JON FAINE:

Congratulations. Have you got a Rolex?

ALAN TUDGE:

I don’t have a Rolex, no Jon.

JON FAINE:

Anyone ever offered you a Rolex?

ALAN TUDGE:

No one has ever offered me a Rolex.  No, I’ve got a very nice watch actually which my dad gave me for my 40th Birthday a few years ago, which I continue to wear and will always wear.

JON FAINE:

Well, leaving aside the cheap points scoring about you predecessor, as new Human Services Minister, is there any change in priorities as you administer one of the most important government portfolios from the public’s point of view?

ALAN TUDGE:

It is an important portfolio because in some respects, it touches the lives of most people through the payment system. Listen, my overall objective is to ensure that the welfare system as a whole is targeted; it supports those in need, and just as importantly is financially sustainable.

That really means three things. Firstly, you’ve got to define the criteria correctly as to who is eligible for particular payments and what those payments should be. Secondly, you’ve got to have rigour in relation to the assessments process. And thirdly, you need to ensure that any mutual obligations are stringently enforced. So those are going to be my three priority areas which I’ll be working of course very closely with Christian Porter, the Social Services Minister on as well.

JON FAINE:

Are you – you’re to be responsible for the Work for the Dole scheme, are you not? It’s got a mixed track record.

ALAN TUDGE:

Yes it has. In some areas it’s worked well, in other areas it hasn’t worked as well. We would have liked to have seen the job outcomes come out of that program to have been higher than what they are presently.  But in some areas it is working very well. It is getting people out of bed, its keeping their skills high.  Certainly in the more remote areas as you probably know, where there’s very few job opportunities, we have a ‘Full Time Work for the Dole Scheme’ being rolled out and that is proving to be quite successful in terms of keeping people active, keeping skills high, and creating further incentive for people to take work when a job does arrive.

JON FAINE:

Well, that’s the glass half-full approach. The glass half empty analysis of the same situation Alan Tudge, Minister-elect is that it hardly ever leads to full time employment, it keeps people occupied with paperwork and compliance, but it doesn’t actually do much for their job prospects.

ALAN TUDGE:

As I said, it’s worked more successfully in some areas than others. The Employment Minister is going to be looking further at that. Certainly in the remoter areas where I’ve had more involvement with, at least to date, it has been quite successful in terms of keeping people active and keeping skills higher.

JON FAINE:

You’re talking about indigenous communities, remote communities, that you’ve personally -

ALAN TUDGE:

Yeah it’s mostly…..it’s not exclusively indigenous, although many people who are indigenous get captured across about 60 regions in more remote areas of Australia as a ‘Full Time Work for the Dole scheme.’

JON FAINE:

It’s babysitting – it’s dismissively referred to as babysitting and doesn’t necessarily lead –

ALAN TUDGE:

Oh that’s not true Jon, I’ll take you up on that. That’s not true and many people do like the scheme because you can get many community projects built and developed at the same time with that scheme, so your much better off  -

JON FAINE:

But it’s not supposed to be a substitute for work is it Alan Tudge?

ALAN TUDGE:

Oh no, of course it’s not, of course it’s not. And in those areas, in those areas, it is a mechanism for people to get out of bed, to do something constructive for the community in exchange for their welfare payments. That is a much better thing than people sitting and being just passive welfare recipients because, if you’re on long term welfare and you’re passive in the process, then you will become debilitated and you’ll be less likely to ever get a job consequently.

So, our ambition is always to keep people active, it’s always to keep people contributing, even in exchange for their welfare payments so that when a real job does come along, they’re more willing, they’re more able, they’re more prepared to be able to take that job.

JON FAINE:

We’ve just spent yesterday talking to one of the other new appointments. Another Victorian, Senator Scott Ryan, who is going to be in charge of Vocational education and training schemes as the new minister there. Your work is absolutely tied in with each other on this because the failure to properly transition from TAFE to private providers and the rip offs of billions of dollars of tax payer funds in what is now his portfolio area directly impacts on what you’re talking about as well, doesn’t it?

ALAN TUDGE:

Oh listen, it does but I know that Scott Ryan has firmly got that in his sights, there’s already been some good work done in that area by Luke Hartsuyker and Simon Birmingham. I didn’t…

JON FAINE:

Such good work they got sacked.

ALAN TUDGE:

Simon Birmingham is still the Education Minister with overall responsibility. But I didn’t hear the interview yesterday with Scott Ryan, but I do know that’s going to be one of his priority areas

JON FAINE:

One view of Malcom Turnbull, your boss’ changes of the arrangements in the federal capital is that its freshening the team up, dealing with a couple of issues – renewals, dismissals, incompetence, dishonesty – its dealing with those to prepare for the next election.

But there’s also the possibility that it’s shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic, and you and your colleagues are headed for the same fate as the Baillieu/Napthine State Government here in Victoria of being one term wonders Alan Tudge. Disunity is death in politics and there are all the signs of it amongst the Liberal Party, National Party Coalition Ranks in Canberra right now.

ALAN TUDGE:

That’s a pretty big assertion Jon and I disagree with that assertion to be honest.

JON FAINE:

I expect you to disagree with it, but it’s actually observable and some of its unarguable.

ALAN TUDGE:

Listen, at this time of year, six months out from an election, inevitably you have people announce their retirement and not going to contest the next election. That happens before every election and it’s happened of course with people like Warren Truss and with Andrew Robb from Victoria.  In addition we’ve had a couple of unexpected people who have stepped down from the front bench.

In my view, that provides opportunities as well for the government to refresh the team, to bring other people into the mix. But at the same time, we’ve still got some very experienced players in the Cabinet, Malcom Turnbull obviously, with Julie Bishop, Arthur Sinodinos, Barnaby Joyce, Christopher Pyne, all of them have got years and in some cases decades of experience, and that’s being combined with some newer, fresher people as well to add to the mix. All organisations have to do that, be constantly renewing their teams and combining the experienced with new vigour as well.

JON FAINE:

And you’ve got internal brawling both in the New South Wales pre-selections and the effort to try and bazooka Bronwyn Bishop out, and sort out who replaces Phil Ruddock and all the rest of it. And now in Victoria, Tim Wilson, former regular on this program and Human Rights Commissioner fighting out with Georgie Downer from the dynasty of the Downer Family, now also a contributor on the Friday rap here and Marcus Bastiaan is a well-connected local, and suddenly Jeff Kennett breaks Liberal Party rules by publically accusing Tim Wilson of breaking Liberal Party rules, although he actually isn’t because he’s - 

ALAN TUDGE:

I’ll tell you what though Jon, just on that point: I mean it gives an indication of the quality of the people that we do have wanting to stand for good seats in Victoria. Because Tim Wilson, as some of your listeners will know, that he’s a Human Rights Commissioner presently - very articulate, very bright. Georgia Downer is another person, she was a first class honours graduate, I think a graduate from London School of Economics, been in Foreign Affairs, very articulate as well. And then Marcus Bastiaan also, whose a very bright capable individual who may also contest that seat, I don’t think he has declared one way or the other yet. But I think that in every seat that we have coming up, we’ve got exceptionally good calibre people and I think that actually bears well for not just the Liberal Party, but the Australian political system as a whole, when you do have people with such good calibre putting their hands up.

JON FAINE:

Which do you support?

ALAN TUDGE:

Oh, I’m always very hesitant Jon to make statements like that publically. I know all three, I know the capabilities of all three. I think if any of those people got up, they would make a tremendous contribution. All three would be future ministers and I would work very cooperatively along with the rest of the team should any of them get up frankly.

JON FAINE:

Your wife is expecting, I think is it your third child on Friday?

ALAN TUDGE:

My third! On Friday morning.

JON FAINE:

Family package, A, B, C, D, E and F might well apply!  Good luck there. It’s a huge week in the Tudge household so best of luck both with the new gig and also the new baby. Best wishes, and thank you for taking our call today.

ALAN TUDGE:

Thanks so much Jon.

JON FAINE:

Alan Tudge, the Minister to be for Human Services to be sworn in on Thursday.

[ENDS]