8 March 2016
Transcript - #2015025, 2016

In the role of: Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer [21 September 2015 - 18 July 2016]

Interview with Michael Brissenden, ABC AM

SUBJECTS: Life insurance, Budget, Newspoll

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

Kelly O'Dwyer good morning.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Good morning Michael.

BRISSENDEN:

So would the Government support a Senate inquiry into this?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Yes, in fact John Williams has been the Senator who has in fact called for an extension in the inquiry that is currently being conducted at the moment to look at these claims.

BRISSENDEN:

Ok, what about a royal commission if that gets up?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Well Michael, we are absolutely shocked by the allegations that have been raised overnight. They are deeply shocking, they are deeply concerning and they need to be properly investigated. ASIC has advised the Government they are looking into the cases that have been raised and we have asked ASIC for an urgent report to look at whether the practices that have been raised in the story overnight are more systemic than simply just related to CommInsure.

BRISSENDEN:

Well I guess that is the issue isn't it. Because we have already had a Senate inquiry into financial planning scandal at CBA, this does suggest that it could be a systemic problem doesn't it, in the working culture at Commonwealth Bank?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

We are very keen to get to the bottom of the facts in relation to this particular matter. There will be a Senate inquiry that looks at these issues but more importantly than that there will also be a proper investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission that will be investigating the stories and the allegations that were raised in the ABC story overnight. But we need to check whether it is related to CommInsure or it is more systemic than simply CommInsure and ASIC will be looking at that as well.

BRISSENDEN:

Ok, so it will be a wide ranging ASIC investigation?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

ASIC will be looking at all of those matters that I have just raised.

BRISSENDEN:

Now, Ian Narev says the - denies that there is a systemic problem and says that they are undertaking an independent review. Clearly you don't believe that that is good enough?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Well as I said to you these are very, very troubling and shocking stories. The idea that people come to claim on their insurance, they do that at a time in their lives where they are under deep stress and clearly suffering from personal hardship, and for rightful claims to be denied is completely unjust. So we need to get to the bottom of the facts in relation to this matter and that is exactly what we are doing.

BRISSENDEN:

On another matter, we do keep hearing about the possibility of an early Budget, now you are the Assistant Treasurer will the Government be bringing forward the Budget?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

We will definitely be bringing forward a Budget, Michael, I can assure you of that.

BRISSENDEN:

Will you be bringing it forward from the date – from the May date?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Well look, these are all matters to be considered but we are looking at the ordinary timetable in relation to the Budget, we are working hard on it at the moment, there are a lot of moving parts as you know and we have to make sure we get it right for the Australian people. They want very sound and prudent economic management. We know from the waste of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd how devastating that can be. We're not going to make those mistakes.

BRISSENDEN:

Ok. So it's open to consideration?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

The timetable in relation to election timing would be a matter for the Prime Minister, that's a question you'll have to put to him but as I said, we're working to the timetable that everyone would expect in relation to the Budget. Honestly all of the speculation is just that Michael.

BRISSENDEN:

Ok. You did seem to suggest that the timetable for the Budget would be - is open too.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

In circumstances where there's a different election timetable, obviously there are consequences that flow from that. I'm not aware that there is any different election timetable. We are getting on with governing, we are getting on with important reforms such as the Defence White Paper that was announced only the other week, an investment of more than $447 billion over ten years in our future, in our security and in our defence industry.

BRISSENDEN:

Ok but in the consideration of election timing that also puts into play the consideration of budget timing clearly.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Again Michael, these are all matters that I know everybody loves to speculate on but we are working to the ordinary timetable.

BRISSENDEN:

The polls certainly suggest that Malcolm Turnbull's honeymoon is over. Are you worried – are you one of those in the Government worried infighting is going to destabilise you further and affect your re-election chances?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

We are a very strong and united team and we are getting on with the job of governing.

BRISSENDEN:

Really?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

We are Michael and we are getting on with the job of governing. As I mentioned in the past couple of weeks you've seen the Defence White Paper being released, you've seen Senate reform so that people can make sure that when they vote, their vote is going to count and that there is no gaming of the system, that it is a proper democracy where they know who they're voting for. We've also announced media reform, we're in the process of putting together our budget, taxation reform is obviously on the agenda as part of that discussion. So we've got a lot to do, a lot to focus on and we're getting on with it.

BRISSENDEN:

Hard to see you as a unified team with Tony Abbott's recent contributions in the fall out from the book yesterday – doesn't seem particularly unified to most people.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Well, Tony Abbott is obviously responsible for his own comments and his own conduct and if you've got questions about that you need to put that to him.

BRISSENDEN:

Not helpful though are they for you?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Well, I'll let you put those questions to him, Michael.

BRISSENDEN:

Ok. Kelly O'Dwyer thank you very much for joining us.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Thank you.