Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Schoolkids Bonus, Australian Labor Party, DisabilityCare Australia

E & OE – Proof only

JENNY MACKLIN: From today 1.3 million Australian families will start receiving the Schoolkids Bonus. If you have children in primary school, like these great kids here, it’s $205 for each child, $410 for each secondary school aged child, and it’s paid twice a year. So paid first in January and the second instalment paid in July. The Labor Government is very pleased to be providing this additional support to help families with the costs of getting their kids to school, whether it’s school uniforms, whether it’s sports uniforms, making sure that they have the extra financial support for the books that the children might need going into Term 3. We do understand how important it is to support families. Unfortunately, Mr Abbott has said that if he is successful at the coming election, he will abolish the Schoolkids Bonus and so for many, many families around Australia, 1.3 million families would be worse off if Mr Abbott was successful at the coming election.

JOURNALIST: The Opposition says that the Bonus is misdirected though.

JENNY MACKLIN: I have no evidence that it’s misdirected. All the families I talk to tell me how useful it is to help pay for the winter uniforms, help pay for the books, the things that children need getting ready for Term 3. I think Mr Abbott’s comments demonstrate how out of touch he is with Australian families.

JOURNALIST: Minister, just on the preselection of candidates in Victoria, should rank and file members have a say (inaudible)?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well of course I’m a strong supporter of rank and file ballots. I think they are very, very important that we have local Labor Members of Parliament selected by local people. I hope that that is what happens.

JOURNALIST: Given that men have preselected in Batman and Gellibrand, should women candidates be selected for Hotham and Lalor?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well once again, I’m a very strong supporter of the affirmative action rule that says that we should have 40 per cent of women preselected in seats that we’re likely to win at the coming election. So I certainly hope that we’ll see right across Australia women preselected in seats. We need women in the Cabinet room as we have. We need women preselected in seats that we hope to win at the coming election. We need to make sure we have women representing us in the Parliament.

JOURNALIST: Given in Victoria that the party is behind its AA requirements should those two seats go to women?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well as you know I’ve been a very strong supporter of getting more women into the Parliament and I would like to see strong female candidates in both of those seats.

JOURNALIST: I mean obviously, is there a case for the National Executive to install female candidates if the Party is to make that quota?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well you’ve just asked me about whether or not I support rank and file pre-selections, I do, and that’s why I’d like to see strong female candidates standing in both of those pre-selections.

JOURNALIST: Richard Marles do you support rank and file pre-selections?

RICHARD MARLES: Look I think the best opportunity here is to have rank and file pre-selections. I agree with what the Prime Minister has said in terms of exigencies of time, but he has made the point at the end of last week that he believes that there is time for rank and file pre-selections around the country, for a number of pre-selections which are occurring not just in Victoria but around Australia.

JOURNALIST: But if rank and file don’t select female candidates it still leaves the party with 27 per cent. Should the National Executive take a stand and say, we have this policy and we’re going to implement it?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well let’s see what happens. We’ve got these pre-selections to get through. I’d encourage women to stand in these pre-selections and I hope that we’ll get strong candidates.

JOURNALIST: In terms of the border protection policy, was the Government wrong to dismantle the Howard-era policy?

JENNY MACKLIN: This is not in my portfolio and Tony Burke’s been out in the media today, I’ll leave those comments to him.

JOURNALIST: Did you support that change?

JENNY MACKLIN: I’ll leave those comments to him.

JOURNALIST: You obviously, you are a highly senior member of…

JENY MACKLIN: …I am, and I have my own portfolio and I’ll leave my comments to my own portfolio and you can ask him those questions.

JOURNALIST: Given that the current status of talks with Western Australia about signing on to DisabilityCare, where are we with those?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I call on Western Australia to join DisabilityCare. This is the most exciting initiative that we’ve seen for so, so long and I’m thrilled to be here in Geelong today with two of the biggest supporters of DisabilityCare, and of course the headquarters for DisabilityCare is going to be here in Geelong. It’s great news for Geelong. We were just talking with the people running Best and Less about how happy they are that the headquarters of DisabilityCare is going to be in Geelong. It really will make sure that there is more jobs here in Geelong. So just to reinforce that important decision that was made a little while ago, but I certainly hope that Western Australia will make the decision as soon as possible to come in to DisabilityCare and of course those discussions are continuing.

JOURNALIST: Do you think DisabilityCare is going to be a legacy of Julia Gillard?

JENNY MACKLIN: I think the great thing about DisabilityCare is that it will finally deliver to people with disability and to carers and their families what they have been fighting for, for so long. As Mr Rudd indicated on Monday when we launched DisabilityCare, he indicated then the enormous contribution that Julia Gillard had made to the establishment of DisabilityCare and of course I do the same today. It is a wonderful, wonderful change in our society and something that all Australians are so pleased to be part of.

JOURNALIST: Have you spoken with Colin Barnett or any senior members of the WA Government recently on this?

JENNY MACKLIN: Of course I speak to them regularly. Our senior officials speak to them regularly. We’ll continue those discussions and I hope Western Australia will join DisabilityCare.

JOURNALIST: Has the Premier over there had direct discussions with yourself and any other members of the Government on this?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well not with me personally, but he certainly has with other people and with the previous Prime Minister.

JOURNALIST: In New South Wales obviously there’s intervention there in terms of the Labor Party. Do you think it should have happened earlier and what sort of impact have the problems in New South Wales had on the rest of the party?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I understand Prime Minister Rudd is making some comments about that so I’ll leave the detailed comments to him, other than to say I think that this is a very significant move by Prime Minister Rudd, one that I support. I think we all understand how important it is to make sure that there’s no place for corruption in our political party.

JOURNALIST: Are you worried that New South Wales will affect your candidacy in Victoria?

JENNY MACKLIN: As I’ve said Prime Minister Rudd will have more to say about that.

JOURNALIST: Are you worried for your seat?