May 11, 2015

SUBJECT/S: Childcare, Cuts to Family Payments, Nationals reject Abbott’s cuts to Family Payments 


PAUL KENNEDY: Thanks for your time this morning, Jenny Macklin. In isolation, forgetting about what may come next, in isolation, do you think these childcare changes proposed yesterday are necessary?


JENNY MACKLIN, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND PAYMENTS: We certainly do know that parents are facing increasing out-of-pocket costs for childcare, and so improvements in that area will be welcomed by parents. One of the concerns parents have, though, is that these changes won’t come - won't start until 2017, and the cost of childcare by the Government's own figures will go up by around 20 per cent during that time. So, it is a long time for parents to have to wait for any improvement in their childcare subsidies.


KENNEDY: So is that the only thing that you don't like about what the Government announced yesterday, that it won't happen soon enough?


MACKLIN: Well, that's one concern that we have. We certainly support other changes that the Government is proposing, the simplification for the system. I'm very pleased the Government is keeping the national quality framework to make sure that the quality of childcare continues to be high.


We are very worried that there may be thousands of families locked out of childcare. These are families who are doing a little bit of work or trying to get more work and holding onto a childcare place, families coming back off paid parental leave who are trying to hold onto a childcare place. So we're very worried many families may be locked out of childcare as a result of these changes.


KENNEDY: Some Nationals MPs have spoken about stay-at-home mums and say that they've been locked out altogether. Do you share those concerns?


MACKLIN: Well, we certainly share the concerns of the National Party, though I must say the National Party are very late in the piece when it comes to the Family Tax Benefit Part B cuts that were in the Government's Budget last year. I just remind members of the National Party though they actually voted for these cuts when they went through the House of Representatives last year. So the National Party are a little bit late voicing their concerns. But, better late than never. I hope the National Party can talk some sense into Joe Hockey, so that he understands that families are under financial pressure, and these cuts to Family Tax Benefits really are unfair and will hurt families, especially single-income families.


KENNEDY: Okay, you like the childcare proposed changes, but you're going to be asked to allow those Family Tax Benefit cuts pass through the Senate. So what's going to happen there?


MACKLIN: Well, Labor has made it very clear for a year now that we will not support those cuts to Family Tax Benefits. They are unfair and they will hurt families. An average single-income family on around $65,000 a year, with a couple of children at school, will lose up to $6,000 a year - $6,000 a year that family will lose - because of this Government's cuts to Family Tax Benefits, and we will not support it. They are unfair and it just shows that Joe Hockey really has not learnt anything over the last year. He is still going for unfair cuts in this Budget.


KENNEDY: So, the Government is going to say that Labor is getting in the way of those childcare changes, quite simply. Have you already made that decision - that you will not support those Family Tax Benefits going through and therefore disallowing these childcare changes which you've said this morning that you do support?


MACKLIN: Well, we think that you can actually do the two things - you can find a way to support improvements to childcare and that's what Labor would want to see, as well as making sure you protect families. There are different ways to fund the childcare changes, and I just remind you Joe Hockey actually counted these cuts to Family Tax Benefits against his bottom line last year. Now he is trying to have it both ways and say that they will help pay for the cost of his childcare package. He can't have it both ways. You can't count it twice.


KENNEDY: Is Labor prepared to explain to the electorate then how you can do these - have through these childcare changes come through and not have those tax benefit changes go through?


MACKLIN: Labor has already put two much fairer ways to help the Budget. We've put these two approaches forward. One is to make sure that multi-national corporations who are working in Australia pay their fair share of tax, and Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen have already also proposed ways to make sure that tax concessions delivered to very high-income earners with large superannuation accounts, that those tax concessions are reduced. So they are two practical ways that the Budget could be helped. Unfortunately both Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have just ruled them out without any consideration whatsoever and have decided instead to go for low and middle-income families and hurt them.


KENNEDY: And Jenny Macklin, just one final one. The Australian is reporting that the Government is planning and Mathias Cormann has confirmed that is the case this morning, effectively shrinking government and making some cuts across different departments. Do you support those - what they will call efficiencies being made?


MACKLIN: Well, I haven't seen any of the detail on that, so I will wait to have a look at whatever he has said. One thing I'm very concerned about is that families are going to be hard-hit by this Government's cuts to paid parental leave and of course also to Family Tax Benefits and it just shows that this Government has no idea how hard it is for families to manage their family budgets.


KENNEDY: Jenny Macklin, thanks for your time.