INTERVIEW DOORSTOP, PARLIAMENT HOUSE, 27 MAY 2014

SUBJECT/S: FAMILY TAX BENEFIT PART B, TONY ABBOTT’S CRUEL CUTS TO AUSTRALIAN FAMILIES, TONY ABBOTT’S GOLD-PLATTED PAID PARENTAL LEAVE SCHEME. 

JENNY MACKLIN: Tony Abbott’s cuts to family tax benefits. I just want to make it clear, Labor will not support any freeze to Family Tax Benefit payment rate. 

We want to make it clear to those families in Australia, especially the poorest families in this country that Labor will stand up for them, Labor will make sure that they continue to get the Family Tax Benefit that they need. 

Labor wants to make sure that families are able to maintain and improve their standard of living, not have it cut by Tony Abbott in this cruel budget. 

JOURNALIST: So the $100,000 threshold that’s (inaudible). 

MACKLIN: That’s right that’s not on the table, we’ll work through all the other issues there are many changes the Government is proposing particularly in the area of social services. Labor has made it very plan that we will not support the changes to Family Tax Benefit Part B that would see families with children over the age of 6 lose their Family Tax Benefit Part B. That would mean thousands of dollars out of many low and middle income families and Labor will not support that. 

We will also not support a freeze or a cut to the payment rates of Family Tax Benefits. 

JOURNALIST: What sort of saving are you going to have to find (inaudible) alternative to these measures. 

MACKLIN: The most obvious in the area we are talking about is Tony Abbott’s gold plated Paid Parental Leave Scheme. $5 billion a year Tony Abbott wants to spend on giving wealthy women $50,000 to have a baby, to take six months off to have a baby, Tony Abbott wants to give people $50,000, it’s not fair and Labor certainly won’t support that. 

JOURNALIST: Labor’s not genuine about tackling debt? 

MACKLIN: Beg your pardon? 

JOURNALIST: Labor’s not genuine about tackling the budget emergency which independent people say exists? 

MACKLIN: Well that’s rubbish. Labor has indicated year after year that we’re prepared to make hard decisions. We’re making it absolutely plain that we will not support Tony Abbott’s gold-platted Paid Parental Leave Scheme. How can Tony Abbott say he wants to deal with the Budget when he’s going to spend $5 billion a year on a gold-platted Paid Parental Leave Scheme? 

JOURNALIST: Even if you abolish paid parental leave you won’t have solved the budgetary crisis. 

MACKLIN: Well over four years its worth over $20 billion so it’s not a bad start. 

JOURNALIST: Labor when it was in Government made changes to some of Family Tax Benefit A, and I think there was a freeze put in place. Why won’t you support it now? 

MACKLIN: That was a completely different measure that was the top income thresholds, not the rates of Family Tax Benefits. So make sure we’re very clear about this we did not touch the rates of Family Tax Benefit Part A, because we know that for very low income families, families earning less than $50,000 a year - family income. We do not think it is fair to cut those people’s standard of living, that’s what Tony Abbott wants to do. 

JOURNALIST: What will Labor support? 

MACKLIN: We’ve indicated we’re always willing to look sensibly at means testing. We know how important it is to target Australia’s social security system. It was Labor that introduced the means testing to the Baby Bonus and it was Labor that introduced means testing to Family Tax Benefit Part B. Always roundly criticised by Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey. We made those hard decisions we were opposed by Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, we’ll be very sensible about these means testing options. 

JOURNALIST: Caucus meets today, do you expect you’ll come to a final decision on what you will or won’t support in the Senate? 

MACKLIN: We’re working through these issues carefully. 

JOURNALIST: Regarding that meeting, Manus Island is on the agenda (inaudible) be successful? 

MACKLIN: Well they’re matters that you really should put to Richard and I understand he’ll be talking today. 

JOURNALIST: Back to the budget, the Parliamentary Budget Office appears to have supported the coalition’s assertions that there is a budget emergency. Labor has gone blue in the face saying there isn’t one (inaudible). 

MACKLIN: There is no budget emergency; we understand that it’s important to be very careful with the public’s money that’s why we made hard decisions in government to spend that money carefully to make sure for example that we targeted Family Tax Benefit Part B and the Baby Bonus. I made those decisions, they were hard decisions and Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey opposed us every step of the way. We will not support the freezing of rates for Family Tax Benefits Part A that will hurt some of the lowest income families in the country. 

JOURNALIST: Labor used Government advertising in Government when it was in power, is it fair enough that this Government too look at that option? 

MACKLIN: Well I don’t know whether they’re considering it. 

JOURNALIST: Is the Parliamentary Budget Office wrong in its assertions? 

MACKLIN: As you know Labor is very clear that we have to always be careful about how we spend the public’s money. We made some very hard decisions, I just indicated some of them. It was Labor that means tested the private health insurance rebate, Labor made these hard decisions , always opposed, always opposed by Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey. 

ENDS 

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