May 05, 2015

SUBJECTS: Tony Abbott’s broken promises on pensions, National Disability Insurance Scheme, Tony Abbott’s cuts to Family Payments.


LEON COMPTON: Jenny Macklin, good morning to you.




COMPTON: And so, do you support tightening of eligibility rules for the pension?


MACKLIN: Well first things first Leon, in fact Scott Morrison has not confirmed on ABC Radio this morning that he is going to get rid of the broken promise that Tony Abbott had in last year’s Budget - which was, as you said, to cut the indexation of the pension.


So that is still in the Budget, it’s still in the Parliament and until the Government confirms they’ve taken it out, we of course will continue to call on them to stop attacking pensioners in this very very unfair way, so that’s the first thing. Tony Abbott promised before the last election there would be no changes to pensions. He had no exceptions to that whatsoever; no changes to pensions. He broke that in the last Budget, and it looks like he is going to break that promise again in this Budget.


COMPTON: The point that Scott Morrison I think was making in his interview this morning was that if they’re going to scrap that plan which was a part of finding savings, they’d need to find savings in other areas. Do you support the idea of scrapping the change in indexation for toughening access to the pension?


MACKLIN: Well he seems to have forgotten that Tony Abbott made a very plain promise to pensioners that there would be no cuts to pensions. None. No changes to pensions. Scott Morrison is just ignoring that promise; that’s a promise that Tony Abbott made the day before the last election. Pensioners are pretty angry. Everywhere I go around Australia talking with them they’re very angry that they were told one thing before the election, and now they’re told that somehow the country can’t afford to pay a decent pension to people who’ve worked all their lives, who deserve to have a comfortable retirement.


COMPTON: Let’s move on to the issue though of eligibility for the part pension; something that people who derive many thousands of dollars a year in income from other investments, still manage to get <inaudible>.


MACKLIN: Well, we don’t know what the Government is proposing. You wouldn’t expect me to comment on something that we haven’t seen. Scott Morrison wasn’t prepared to comment on it on ABC Radio this morning, and he knows what the Government is going to do. So, who knows what they’ll do - one thing seems to be sure, they will once again break their promise to pensioners.


COMPTON: Do you support the tightening of eligibility for the pension Ms Macklin?


MACKLIN: Well the policy that we have put out on retirement income so far, which you would have seen earlier in April, is to change the concessions for people on very high superannuation balances. So that’s the policy that we’ve put out so far on retirement incomes, and I’m just not going to respond to speculation in the newspapers about how the Government may, yet again, break its promise to pensioners.


COMPTON: Ms Macklin, you were one of the architects of the National Disability Insurance Scheme which is now up and running for a number of Tasmanians with disabilities.




COMPTON: It’s now passed into Coalition hands. As you’ve been looking around Tasmania - how’s it going?


MACKLIN: One of the great things that I hear from parents and from young people, because, as you know many young people here in Tasmania now have access to the (National) Disability Insurance Scheme is, as one dad said to me, it’s just changed the lives of two of his children who are part of the scheme, and changed his life as well as a carer. So, that’s what we hoped to do of course to make sure that people, young people with disability as is the case in Tasmania, now have access to the sort of services that really can give them a chance to be more independent, to get work if they are able to, to keep going to school if that’s what they’re wanting to do, really to be able to pursue their life’s dreams in a way that they just haven’t been able to before.


So, it is a big change. I know a lot of people here in Tassie are working very hard to make it successful for these young people and for families, so let’s just keep, all of us, supporting it.


COMPTON: And from what you can see, have the Government, the new Government, since they took stewardship of this, continued to honour the intent and the funding levels for the rollout of the NDIS?


MACKLIN: Yes, I’m pretty pleased with how that’s going. The most recent place we were in was actually in Perth, and there are a couple of trial sites in Western Australia as there are of course in many parts of Tasmania so, so far so good and we of course will be watching the Budget next week to make sure that there are no delays to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. You can imagine it’s a very personal thing for me, but so far I’m very pleased that it does have bipartisan support.


COMPTON: Can you explain your party’s position at the moment on the complex funding arrangements for families with children in child care?


MACKLIN: Yes. Once again we haven’t seen the detail. There have been bits of information dripped out. I was in a child care centre yesterday down near Hobart, and one of the concerns that many child care centres have is that a lot of very vulnerable children might be excluded from child care with the changes that are coming. So let’s wait and see what the detail brings, but we have to meet two objectives; one is to support parents who are working – of course, that’s the primary job of child care, but we also know that child care is very important for early childhood education development, and we want to make sure that those children, especially those kids who are very vulnerable, get access to as much early childhood education that they need.


COMPTON: You’ve been critical of the Government’s plan to change funding for parents whose children turn six -




COMPTON: I remember a speech by Julia Gillard in which she says, she justified her Government’s tough policy on parents whose children turn six saying “get a job, you’ll be better off”. That was your policy then, why have you changed your position?


MACKLIN: You’re talking about two different payments. The issue that the Government’s trying to change, or the payment that the Government is trying to change is what’s called Family Tax Benefit Part B, and this is a family payment that goes to hundreds of thousands of single income families; so families where only one parent works, or where there are single parents.


And the evidence is from independent work that’s been done to look at the impact of this change if it got through the Parliament is that for single income, very ordinary income earners, single income families would have a very big impact.


Just to give you one example - a family on $65,000, an average sort of income, family income, single income family with two children at school; the impact of all the Government’s Budget cuts to family payments would amount to $6,000 for that family. So you can understand why I am so strongly opposing those cuts. That would be a cut to that family’s income of 10 per cent, and I don’t think anyone would say that is fair.   


COMPTON: Good to talk to you this morning, thanks for coming in.


MACKLIN: Thank you Leon.