SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s Broken Promise on Paid Parental Leave, Desperate Abbott dumps ‘signature’ PPL scheme to save his Prime Ministership, Abbott fails families again.
PATRICIA KARVELAS: Welcome to the program Jenny.
JENNY MACKLIN, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND PAYMENTS: Thank you Patricia.
KARVELAS: You’ve criticised the Prime Minister for breaking his promise to families on PPL, but you’ve been asking him to do this for years, have you not?
MACKLIN: Well I have certainly been very critical of Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme, that’s true, because it was too expensive and very unfair, giving very high income women a lot of money – taxpayers’ money - to have a baby. So, yes it is true that I have been very critical but it didn’t matter what I said, Tony Abbott repeated again and again and again, including just before the last election, that this was one of his signature polices. He said it was going to be one of the defining marks of his leadership, and he also said it would be introduced in his first term of government. So, leave aside the policy issues, this really is now a matter of character and goes to the fundamental criticism of Tony Abbot I think, and Campbell Newman: that you can’t do something different from what you promised before the election.
KARVELAS: Jenny Macklin how can you have it both ways though? You’ve been baiting them for years to scrap the PPL scheme, saying it’s too extravagant, that it’s for millionaire women, and various other criticisms. But now that they have done it, they have done what you want them to do, you are going to sort of campaign on this as if it is a broken promise. How is that politically consistent?
MACKLIN: Well it is a broken promise. Mr Abbott promised it -
KARVELAS: But it’s a good broken promise isn’t it? Isn’t it what you would characterise as a good broken promise, given it was going to be so expensive to the Federal Budget?
MACKLIN: Well, I’ve acknowledged my views about it, I’m not arguing with you about that, but Mr Abbott promised this again and again and again even though he was faced with years of criticism and its only now that he is in such diabolical trouble that he has decided to save his own hide and break what really he would have described as his signature promise. This is his description, not mine. He described it as his signature policy, as the policy that he wanted to define his prime ministership, and now he’s dumped it, and he has only dumped it because he is in so much trouble.
KARVELAS: Isn’t this partly Labor’s responsibility? You’ve failed to negotiate with the Government, to get so many of these measures through, even to have a negotiating position. Everyone understands that Labor is entitled to their own views on policy, but you haven’t even been willing to negotiate on vast areas. The Government has had real trouble getting things through this Senate and you have participated in that have you not?
MACKLIN: Well, I’m glad you raise this issue, particularly on the day that Mr Abbott says he wants to have a families package. What we have to remember is that in the Budget last year, Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey put forward proposals to cut the family budget by $5.5 billion. And for an average family that adds up to around $6,000 a year. So yes, we are opposing those cuts, we think they are unfair, for a family on around $65,000 with one income earner, to cut their benefits from the Government by 10 per cent - $6,000 - it is unfair. And yes we are going to oppose it.
KARVELAS: But you support an expanded child care system, I mean ultimately the Government might come up with a policy that you find that you can’t not support.
MACKLIN: Well how would you know what the Government’s going to do on child care? We certainly didn’t find out anything today. The Government has had more than a year to come up with the child care policy, Tony Abbott has been saying for months that child care was going to be a focus, this was his make or break speech and we got nothing today, absolutely no information whatsoever.
KARVELAS: When is Labor going to start announcing some serious policy? It seems very much that you are driving a very small target policy now. The Government is in clear trouble, they have acknowledged it all day themselves. Labor just seems to be waiting, holding back and just not being the Government.
MACKLIN: Well we are not the Government, we are in opposition.
KARVELAS: No but I mean your whole position is we are not them, rather than putting forward any ideas. Isn’t it sort of, we are at a part in the cycle where we need to start hearing what your alternatives are, how would you change the child care system?
MACKLIN: As you know I am engaged in a major social policy review and as the person who was responsible for Australia’s first national paid parental leave scheme and the biggest improvements to the pension in 100 years, I think you know I have a good reputation for delivering on serious policy and we will do exactly that.
We know how important it is is to deliver to young families who have child care expenses, that’s why we dramatically improved the Child Care Rebate when we were in government. Now it’s up to Tony Abbott, he says that he is going to do something to improve the situation for families facing high child care bills, let’s see what he has. In last year’s Budget he cut the child care support to family day-care, for example, making it harder for families, not easier, so he starts from a long way behind when it comes to helping families.
KARVELAS: Jenny Macklin, thank you so much for joining me on RN Drive.
MACKLIN: Thanks Patricia.