SUBJECT/S: National Redress Scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse in institutions, Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts to Family Tax Benefits, Newspoll.
FRAN KELLY: Jenny Macklin is the Shadow Minister for Families and Payments, Jenny Macklin good morning, welcome to Breakfast.
JENNY MACKLIN, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES & PAYMENTS: Thank you Fran.
KELLY: Bill Shorten will announce this morning $33 million if Labor wins Government to establish a National Redress Scheme. How much of that $33 million would actually be available for compensation?
MACKLIN: About $13 million is the estimate Fran because as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse recommended the money for the National Redress Scheme in the main should come from the perpetrators of abuse.
I think most Australians would agree that those who have really been responsible for this outrageous abuse to children over many years should be held to account and pay the redress that people so desperately deserve.
KELLY: Yes and so the price tag the Royal Commission put onto it the $4 billion for this redress scheme – much of it should come from the institutions.
MACKLIN: That’s right.
KELLY: Like the Catholic Church perhaps like the Salvation Army, like the Scouts like whoever. But it also did say that the Commonwealth and State Governments should have a pool of last resort funding in the order of about $615 million – about 15 percent of the total cost of redress - so Labor’s scheme is a long way short of that.
MACKLIN: We’ve had the Parliamentary Budget Office look at the figures from the Royal Commission and they agree that the Commonwealth’s likely liability is very small.
It is true that the Commonwealth will have some responsibility possibly for abuse that may have happened in the territories a long time ago when the Commonwealth was still responsible. So there are some circumstances where the Commonwealth may be found to be responsible but in the main the perpetrators of this abuse were in institutions either run by not-for-profit organisations or churches as you mention or by the states. So the Commonwealth’s main responsibility as recommended by the Royal Commission is to take the lead and establish a National Redress Scheme to make sure that the perpetrators actually pay what redress people deserve.
KELLY: So this would be setting up this agency. What about beyond the compensation costs, the payouts which would be the main focus of this, support services recommended as backup things like counselling, psychological support a lot of that comes into it doesn’t it?
MACKLIN: Well it needs to come once again from those institutions that were responsible. That’s where the money should come from. The Commonwealth we think should be responsible for organising it through the National Redress Scheme and also to make sure that counselling and psychological support is available to people, but the money to pay for those services should come from the perpetrators of abuse.
KELLY: Let’s talk about the money to pay, it’s not a lot of money. As we’ve said $33 million but you’ve got to fund it somehow. Where would Labor say this money would come from?
MACKLIN: As we’ve indicated the two main savings areas so far - one is to make sure that those multinational corporations who are operating in Australia pay their fair share of tax. Secondly where we know there are high wealth individuals in Australia with large superannuation balances they also pay their fair share of tax. So this $33 million can certainly be funded through those two sources.
KELLY: Jenny Macklin, you are also the Shadow Minister responsible for family payments and the Government has trimmed its proposed cuts to Family Tax Benefits in order to try and get them through the Senate. You’ve had almost a week now to go through the numbers. Is Labor inclined to pass this legislation?
MACKLIN: Well I am concerned about the impact of these changes, particularly on single parents. You would have seen Labor pursue the concerns of grandparent carers as well in the Parliament last week.
Just to give you a sense of what these changes will mean for single parents – it will mean that single parents will completely lose their end-of-year supplements and I had an email from a single parent just yesterday with three children telling me the loss of these end-of-year supplements would have a very significant impact on her life.
She uses these lump sum amounts to help pay to get the car fixed or for other larger items that she needs, buying the school uniforms, buying the school shoes for her children. So we’re very concerned about what this will mean for single parents. It will leave them a lot worse off.
KELLY: What does that mean though are you going to try and negotiate with Scott Morrison? He seems to be opening the door to that, he said for instance the 3,900 grandparents who are primary carers and some single parents may be exempt and he says: the ball is in your court, if Labor comes to us, I’m sure we’ll come to a reconciliation on single parents and particularly grandparent carers.
MACKLIN: Well it’s quite an extraordinary statement from Scott Morrison. They only put the legislation into the Parliament last week
KELLY: And now they’re saying let’s do a deal. Will you try and talk to him?
MACKLIN: Did they design this legislation knowing that 130,000 single parents and almost 4,000 grandparent carers would be worse off? We want to make sure that these single parents and grandparent carers are protected.
KELLY: Will you try and do a deal with Scott Morrison to try and ameliorate this?
MACKLIN: What I’m going to do is stand up for the interests of single parents and grandparent carers and make sure that they aren’t going to be worse off.
KELLY: Does that mean a compromise, or are you going to try and get a compromise?
MACKLIN: What I want to see from the Government is a much fairer proposal. These proposals are unfair. Malcolm Turnbull himself said just last week: “fairness is what it’s all about”. Well I’d have to say these cuts to Family Tax Benefits fail Mr Turnbull’s fairness test.
KELLY: You know it was a Labor Government that first shifted single mothers off the parenting benefit and on to the lower paying unemployment benefit when their youngest child turns six I think it was, and I think you’ve said in the past that was a mistake.
MACKLIN: It was a mistake and I certainly don’t want to see single parents suffer from another round of cuts. These cuts would mean for some single parents they’d be nearly $5,000 a year worse off – so we certainly won’t be supporting that.
KELLY: You’re listening to RN Breakfast my guest is the Shadow Minister for Families, Jenny Macklin. Jenny another bad poll for Labor today. Newspoll has the Coalition ahead 52-48 two party preferred and Bill Shorten’s approval rating is -32 and on preferred Prime Minister he trails Malcolm Turnbull 63-17 percent. Which is a pretty diabolical gap. At what point does Labor have to come to terms with the fact that voters don’t like Bill Shorten?
MACKLIN: Well I think one of the messages that you Fran and others have been making to all of us on all sides of politics is that people are crying out for more policy and that’s exactly what we’re doing today, announcing that we will establish a National Redress Scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse in institutions. So that’s where our focus is. Making sure we actually do the policy work that people actually want us to do to improve the circumstances particularly of the most vulnerable in Australia. If ever there was an issue that we should be putting politics to one side it’s for those who’ve survived child sexual abuse in institutions and that’s exactly what Labor will do.
KELLY: Alright Jenny Macklin thank you very much for joining us.
MACKLIN: Thank you.