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2GB, Drive with Mark Levy

12 June 2020

Interviewer: 
Mark Levy

Subject: Protests, small business, border closures, China

E&OE

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Michaelia Cash was interviewed on 2GB Drive with Mark Levy

MARK LEVY: We are now going to fire up about the issues of the week and it usually only takes an Indian curry to get the Senator worked up. She's the Federal Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business. She's with me now, Senator, good afternoon.

MINISTER CASH: Good afternoon, Mark. And tell me, did you have a curry for the country for me?

MARK LEVY: Did I ever! I even ate more than a curry.

MINISTER CASH: Good on you is all I can say.

MARK LEVY: Fantastic. Well, this is what this segment's all about, having a bit of a laugh, but also tackling the issues of the day and the week. I suppose Senator, the major story of the day centres on these protesters who are ignoring the warnings from health authorities and the police in New South Wales by taking to the streets to rally about Black Lives Matter and refugees. I mean, yes, it's their democratic right, but not during a pandemic.

MINISTER CASH: Look every person who goes out this weekend to protest should also at the same time, apologize to their local small business. Apologise to their local butcher, their local cafe, and say to them, "I am sorry that I am putting your economic livelihood at risk," because Mark, that is what they are doing. The medical advice is clear. The medical advice that each and every one of us has adhered to since we had to take those steps to lock down our economy. I would say to those thinking of attending the protest, please do not attend. Your actions will put other people's lives at risk. Think about that small business. Do you actually want to be the person who ends up in closing them down again? And I really would hope the answer to that question is no.

MARK LEVY: And it's funny, Senator, you talk about the economic recovery. It's obviously at the top of the list for the Morrison Government, and it should be for every state government across the country, but if you listen to the federal opposition, the shadow ministers are blaming the coalition for the country entering a recession. Are they ignoring the fact that we're getting through a pandemic?

MINISTER CASH: I think, what is worse deliberately ignoring the facts. The only reason that as a Federal Government we were able to respond in the manner, in both the quantum and the way in terms of our delivery of our programs that we did, was because of the strength of our economy going into COVID-19. Cast your mind back 12 months, Mark, can you imagine if a Labor Government was currently in charge of the economy? They wanted to legislate hundreds of billions of dollars of additional taxes. Can you imagine where we would all be now? They are deliberately stating what they will now. It is only because of the good economic management of the Coalition Government that we've been able to put in place the very, very necessary support measures that we have.

MARK LEVY: We have had some good news as far as the borders go. South Australia confirmation from the Premier of the 20th of July. They'll be opening the borders in South Australia. Queensland, not confirmation as yet, but we understand that Premier Palaszczuk has nominated the 10th of July to reopen the state of Queensland. And to think that the Queensland Government wants to negotiate and look to Air New Zealand to try and get people to and from New Zealand and Queensland, yet we won't let anybody in Australia into Queensland. It doesn't make a lot of sense, does it?

MINISTER CASH: Well, one might say it is a little strange, but then again, anything's possible with the Palaszczuk Government, isn't it? But no, look, the Federal Government, Mark, as you know, we've been very clear for a number of weeks now. The medical advice hasn't changed. You can reopen your borders. Let's do that. Let's get this economy opened up even further. The restrictions as we know did have a devastating impact on the economy, but even with the small easing of restrictions, what we're now seeing are those signs of recovery across the country. Let's get on with it. Let's open up those state borders and let's get those businesses back in business.

MARK LEVY: This is the best steam. Remember, folks, Senator Cash, you're the best.

MINISTER CASH: Well, hold on Mark, I've got to ask you, do you rate the steam room temperature at the end of the show though, that's what I want to know. How hot actually is it?

MARK LEVY: I did want to squeeze in a couple more though.

MINISTER CASH: Okay. Go for it.

MARK LEVY: I think the other major issue we've got at the moment are these bullying tactics from China, especially when Beijing is warning students not to study in Australia because apparently we're racist. When is the Prime Minister going to stand up to China and say, "enough is enough"?

MINISTER CASH: Oh, look, I think the Prime Minister will always put the national interest first. And that is very much standing up to anybody who thinks that they can tell us what to do. You know, in terms of Australians, we are proud to welcome people, as you know, from all backgrounds and give everyone who comes here a fair go. That that's just what we do as Australians, regardless of race, regardless of religion, ethnicity, it just doesn't matter. But I would say in relation to the Prime Minister, I mean, he is someone who has made it very, very clear. We reject China's assertions. Australia is a popular destination for international students because we are a successful multicultural society, but the Prime Minister is clear. We will always put Australia's national interest first.

MARK LEVY: All right. Fantastic. One last one. It's a personal question. How does Senator Cash unwind because I have absolutely have no idea and I've got a pretty, fairly busy work schedule at the moment too. Where do you get your energy?

MINISTER CASH: Do you know, I wake up every day and I genuinely say to myself, you are in such a privileged position. I think that there is no higher thing that you can do than to serve the people of Australia as the Minister for Small and Family Business. Every single day, I am humbled by the resilience of small business, by the innovation, by the fact that they never ask for anything from government, other than for us to get out of their way. My staff would probably say, no, no, no, that's the coffee and the Berocca. No, I love what I do. People think sometimes I'm perhaps a little too loud, a little too passionate, but if it means we can implement good policy on behalf of small and family business, I wear it as a badge of honour.

MARK LEVY: Well said. Well, thank you for hopping onto the line on this Friday and having a bit of fun. This is probably been the hottest steam room we've had.

MINISTER CASH: Good. And I've loved every minute of it and I hope I join you again.

MARK LEVY: Remember, Curry for the Country.

MINISTER CASH: Curry for the Country. I'll be having one tonight.

MARK LEVY: Same here.

MINISTER CASH: Good on you, Mark.

MARK LEVY: Oh, what a star. Senator Michaelia Cash. Love her.

ENDS