Scott Morrison “private sector” welfare quote not accurate

FactCheck September 11, 2019

The Statement

AAP FactCheck examined a Facebook post published on September 10, 2019 from a page titled Liberal Ideology.

A Facebook post from September 10, 2019, shows an image of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and a purported 2015 quote attributed to him.

The post shows  a photo of Prime Minister Scott Morrison  in parliament with a purported quote superimposed over the image that reads: “Welfare must become a good deal for private investors…allow us to shift services from the government sector to the private sector.”

Below the image is the URL of a June 26, 2015, Sydney Morning Herald article.

The caption on the post reads: “Yes precisely! He’s monetizing the Welfare Sector using New Services to hand over to the Private Sector! Ex LNP Members start Companies to fulfill a Gov Service eg Indue Card, then the LNP create a NEW Revenue Stream for the Liberal Party! I bet the Drug Testing Company is owned by an Ex LNP Member also? What a stitch up?”

The post has been shared more than 180 times and attracted more than 50 comments and 200 reactions. 

The Liberal Ideology page describes itself as opposed to the Australian Liberal Party. Founded in 2012, the page has more than 12,000 likes.


The Analysis

Then-Social Services Minister Scott Morrison gave a speech at the Australian Council of Social Service (‘ACOSS’) on June 26, 2015, detailing his desire for the private sector to invest more in the welfare system.

In this speech Mr Morrison said: “What I am basically saying is that welfare must become a good deal for investors – for private investors. We have to make it a good deal – for the returns to be there, to attract the level of capital that will be necessary in addition to the significant injection of capital and resources that is already provided by States and the Commonwealth.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison in parliament in 2019.

Later in the speech Mr Morrison touched on “social impact bonds”.

“Social Impact Bonds allow us to extend the financial risk of funding and delivering social services from the public sector to include the private sector. Taxpayers’ money is spent only on successful programmes and outcomes, as it should be,” he said.

The June 29, 2015 SMH article by Rachel Browne, the URL for which appears in the post, paraphrased Mr Morrison’s line about welfare becoming a “good deal” for private investors.  

The post featured a slightly edited version of the original line from Mr Morrison’s speech, omitting the first mention of “investors” to become “Welfare must become a good deal for private investors”.

However, the second clause of the quotation: “… allow us to shift services from the government sector to the private sector” is not found in either the SMH story or the full transcript of Mr Morrison’s ACOSS speech

Nor can it be found in ABC radio journalist Louise Yaxley’s coverage of the speech on the PM program.

The line appears to be an alteration of Mr Morrison’s statement regarding social impact bonds, which is listed  above.

AAP FactCheck found that the earliest version of the line used in the Liberal Ideology post appears in the comments section of a story published on independent media website The Australian Independent Media Network on June 5, 2017.

A user called “silkworm” commented:“… Morrison gave the game away in 2015 when he said, ‘Welfare must become a good deal for private investors…. allow us to shift services from the government sector to the private sector.’”

This user included a link to a story published on June 26, 2015 (the day of Mr Morrison’s ACOSS speech) by Pro Bono Australia, which is a news, jobs, research and funding resource for the not-for-profit and charity sector.

However, the Pro Bono Australia story does not contain the quotation in question.

This purported quote appeared in another AIM story published on December 13, 2017.

This story attributed the quote to Scott Morrison and dated it to June 26, 2015, but provided no source.

The Verdict 

Based on the evidence above, AAP FactCheck has determined the quote attributed to Mr Morrison in the Liberal Ideology post is a mixture of true and false material.

The first clause of the quote can be accurately attributed to a speech made by Mr Morrison at the June 2015 ACOSS conference, however, the second clause cannot be found in this speech and cannot be accurately attributed to Mr Morrison anywhere else. 

It appears to have been drawn from a comment on a story published by The Australian Independent Media Network in June 2017. 

Mixture – The Facebook post is a mixture of true and false material.

 First published September 11, 2019, 16:08 AEST

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