SUBJECT/S: Labor protects vulnerable Australians, Energy Supplement, Omnibus Bill, Turnbull’s cuts to Family Tax Benefits, Budget repair.
MARIUS BENSON: Jenny Macklin did you lose a battle? Did you lose your battle to protect welfare payments?
JENNY MACKLIN, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES & SOCIAL SERVICES: I think the most important thing that happened yesterday is that Labor has protected the most vulnerable people. The Clean Energy Supplement will continue to be paid to people on the lowest incomes. Newstart, people on the aged, disability support, carer pensions. These are the people I was determined to protect and we’ve done so.
BENSON: But what will the impact be of the cuts that you have agreed to?
MACKLIN: What we know is that it’s very important, first of all, to protect the most vulnerable people and Labor will also make sure we continue to do everything we can to protect families on low and middle incomes. More than 1 million families will be protected as a result of Labor making clear we will not support any further cuts to Family Tax Benefit Supplements. Scott Morrison has just announced that he will pursue another $2 billion of cuts to family payments. Labor will oppose those cuts. For families on, for example, $50,000 they would be more than $1,200 a year worse off if Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison get their entire package of cuts to family payments through the Parliament and Labor won’t support that.
BENSON: So are you just saying no more cuts?
MACKLIN: We’re saying that we will not support any further cuts to Family Tax Benefit supplements. We will not support the abolition of the Energy Supplement to those on Newstart or pensions. These are people living on very low incomes - incomes as low as $13,000 a year. We don’t think that it’s fair to say to these people that they have to carry the burden of repairing the budget. The Government should be looking to actually finalise their superannuation changes. The Government should take up the other proposals that Labor has put forward on negative gearing and capital gains tax reform. That would provide budget repair that is fair, rather than hitting the poorest people in the country.
BENSON: So you think tax increases are the way to go, rather than cut backs?
MACKLIN: We’ve put forward a whole range of different proposals. We did get the Government to agree to not proceed with the $1,000 Baby Bonus that they wanted to pay. That was a proposal from Labor that the Government has agreed to. Labor has put forward other proposals to the Government that they said they would look at, for example limiting the amount of debt that people in vocational education can take on. So Labor is proposing Budget Repair that is fair. What Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull are doing is saying that they are intent on pursuing cuts that will hurt the poorest people in the country.
BENSON: Do you accept the contention from the Government that we are living beyond our means, that there is a system that is effectively resulting in intergenerational theft because you’re burdening future generations with debt?
MACKLIN: We certainly agree that we need budget repair, and we understand the importance of maintaining Australia’s AAA credit rating. That is why Labor is willing to sit down with the Government and pursue budget changes that are fair. But what we are not going to do is agree to cuts that will hurt the most vulnerable people in Australia. That is why Labor will oppose the abolition of the Energy Supplement, that’s why Labor will protect more than 1 million families on low incomes who need the end of year supplement to help them pay their bills.
BENSON: Jenny Macklin, thank you very much.
MACKLIN: Thank you.