Doorstop Interview - Adelaide - 1 February 2017

SUBJECTS: Malcolm Turnbull’s child care deceit, family tax benefit cuts, One Nation candidate’s comments.

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

 

SUBJECTS: Malcolm Turnbull’s child care deceit, family tax benefit cuts, One Nation candidate’s comments.

 

JENNY MACKLIN, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES: Thanks very much everyone for joining us here today. I’m very pleased to be here in Adelaide with my very good friend and colleague Kate Ellis, and we’re here today to talk about families and the impact of the Government’s changes to family tax benefits, paid parental leave and child care.

 

You may have seen this morning that the Prime Minister is suggesting that his company tax cuts will deliver benefits to wage earners. The truth is that those benefits won’t apply for 20 years. It won’t be until 20 years’ time that wage earners or families would see the benefit, if any, of those tax cuts. The truth is – and the Prime Minister should come clean and stop being so deceptive – the truth is the Prime Minister has cuts in the Parliament right now that would see an average family with two teenagers lose around $3000 a year in cuts to family tax benefits.

 

Those cuts are in the Parliament right now. They’re the cuts that Malcolm Turnbull wants to impose on thousands of families around Australia, and they would impact on families right now.

 

The other big cut that is in the Parliament, that is being considered by a Senate inquiry today, are cuts to paid parental leave. The Turnbull Government’s cuts to paid parental leave would leave around 80,000 families up to $12,000 worse off if they get through the Parliament. We’ve seen submissions from South Australia, in the Senate inquiry today, calling on the Turnbull Government to drop these cuts to paid parental leave because they will make it so much harder for families to spend those precious early months with their newborn babies.

 

I’ll just get Kate to say a few words about the child care changes.

 

KATE ELLIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: Thank you very much Jenny, and it’s fantastic to have Jenny Macklin here meeting with not just me but with Adelaide families on these important issues.

 

What we’ve heard about the Prime Minister’s speech today indicates that even though it’s now been over three years that we’ve all been talking about the need for child care improvements, the Government is just preparing to play more political games.

 

On the very same day that we’ve all been disgusted by the comments of a One Nation candidate who has referred to single mothers in Australia as being ‘lazy’ and ‘ugly’, the Prime Minister will today confirm that the only way we will see improvements to our child care system is if the Government does a deal with One Nation to rip money out of the pockets of working single parents and of families on incomes of less than $80,000.

 

We don’t believe that the only way you can reform Australia’s child care system is by robbing the money out of some families’ pockets to put it in the pockets of others. This is nothing more than robbing Peter to pay Paul. What we also know from the Government’s own words, is the only reason they have linked the family tax benefit cuts with the child care package is for political purposes – Arthur Sinodinos said that himself, on the record in Estimates.

 

We know that child care improvement is long overdue. We’ve placed on the record the changes to the Government’s package that we want to see made and that the sector wants to see made so that we can all get on with the job. But what we will not be doing is supporting cuts to families who are already doing it tough at a time when the Government is, at the same time, looking to send $50 billion on corporate tax cuts.

 

Labor believes in budget repair. We believe in finding savings measures. We’ve already supported over $6 billion in savings measures that we see as fair. We’ve already placed on the record our support for changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax so that we can raise more revenue. But what we do know is that this Government is only prepared to improve child care for some families if they can rip the money to do it out of the pockets of other families in Australia.

 

REPORTER: Are you willing to leave the current complex system of child care in place because you don’t support these proposed cuts to family tax benefits?

 

ELLIS: As we have long placed on the record, we think that Australian families need child care relief. We know that it is almost unprecedented for the Government to go through an entire term of Parliament without making a single improvement to help local families. That’s not good enough and they need to get on with the job now of fixing the child care system. But they also need to be honest – it is a lie that the only way you can fix child care for Australian families is to hit disadvantaged families in the hip pocket. That is just not true and we’re not buying it.

 

REPORTER: So it’s better, though, to leave the current complex system in place?

 

ELLIS: As I said, we’ve put forward suggestions to the Government on how they can improve our child care system and we’ve also put forward a number of ways the Government could help pay for that. The Government have options, it is a lie to say that there is only one way to do this and that is hitting single parents and by hitting disadvantaged and lower income Australian families. That should not be a lie that’s allowed to stand.

 

There are numerous examples of the Government putting forward new policies without linking them specifically to other savings measures. Nobody’s buying it, and it’s just a pity that the Prime Minister today is fronting up to give a major speech where he is continuing the lies that we’ve seen in previous years.

 

REPORTER: It’s in a complex system, if there is a top-up system with paid parental leave for instance. Middle Australia is going to be benefitting from that surely? You can’t fix it for everyone, surely?

 

ELLIS: The Government is in their child care reforms proposing to spend an extra $3 billion and it’s estimated that one in three families will be worse off. That’s actually a pretty hard thing to do – spend $3 billion and making thousands of Australian families worse off. We think that there are better ways and we have been really clear about the fact that we are willing to work with the Government to deliver these ways. Australian families are sick and tired of the political games around child care and cuts to family payments, they want a Government who is going to view this as a priority and get on with the job of doing it, not by playing political games and only doing anything to fix child care if they can do a dodgy deal with One Nation when it comes to cutting single parents’ payments and cutting lower income Australian families’ payments. That’s not good enough.

 

REPORTER: Can you give us some examples of how else the Government should pay for the changes?

 

ELLIS: As we said, we have already supported over $6 billion in savings measures in these areas. We have also put forward our policy to reform negative gearing, we’ve put forward our policies when it comes to capital gains tax exemptions. We know that the Government has many options, and they are being dishonest when they say that the only option for improving child care is to rip it out of families’ pockets. That’s just not true and anyone can see that there are other options.

 

It’s interesting that the two features of the Prime Minister’s speech today we’re hearing are going to be standing up and arguing why we should spend $50 billion on corporate tax cuts, and the other feature is him saying that we can’t possibly fix the Australian child care system unless we slug lower income families for the $3 billion it will cost. That doesn’t make sense – this is about the Government’s priorities, and this Prime Minister has got his priorities wrong.

 

REPORTER: How do you plan to split the bill in the Senate?

 

ELLIS: Obviously we will wait until we see this new piece of legislation. We hope that the Government will have listened to the concerns that Labor has put forward and that stakeholders across the country have put forward about some serious policy flaws in their child care package, and then we will assess the bill when we see it.

 

REPORTER: What does it say about politics when candidates like, as you mentioned, One Nation’s David Archibald making comments as he’s made. Obviously it’s deeply upset you, should that be the way all Australians feel?

 

ELLIS: I think that all candidates and all members of Parliament need to held accountable for their views and for the sort of leadership that they put forward in our community. The comments that we’ve seen today I think are nothing short of disgusting and offensive. I think that they are a horrible reflection on a segment of the Australian community who works darn hard and is doing it tough at times. I think that every candidate and every member of Parliament should be held to account.

 

I know that there are many Australians who are cynical about politics and about politicians, but that doesn’t mean that we should turn a blind eye to these sort of deeply divisive and offensive comments that are being put forward by some. We should hold everyone to a higher standard than that, and this bloke should go. Thanks everyone.

 

ENDS