Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Household Assistance Package, tax cuts, mental health- Karina Carvalho, ABC Breakfast

Program: ABC News Breaksfast

E & OE – Proof only

Subject: Household Assistance Package, tax cuts, mental health

KARINA CARVALHO: Support for the carbon tax at an all time low, it’s dropped 4% to 33%, this message just isn’t getting through is it?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think what we’re going to be able to see from today on is the reality and people will be able to make their own decisions once they realise that for around 7 million Australians they’re going to be getting a tax cut and they’ll see the benefit of that tax cut in their fortnightly pay packet, so that’s just started from today. Of course, over the last month we’ve had families and pensioners receive increased assistance to help with what we know will be modest price rises as a result of the introduction of the carbon price. But I think the important thing is from now people will be able to go about their daily lives and understand that they’re getting tax cuts, they’ve received increases in their pensions and family payments, and that will make sure it covers the expected price rises.

KARINA CARVALHO: Why hasn’t the Government been able to sell the compensation as a result of the carbon tax to families and individuals?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think until it actually starts which it now has, of course people don’t know the reality and from now people will see that the scare campaign that Mr Abbott has run over the last few years is just that, a scare campaign, totally false. The Sunday roast, a leg of lamb, is not going to cost $100. I don’t know about you, I went to the butcher on Saturday, I’ll go again next Saturday, and I’m sure it won’t cost a $100. But we do recognise, it’s important to provide extra assistance to families, and that’s why we have. Extra assistance to pensioners, and of course, we’ve had it confirmed again today that Mr Abbott will take this money off pensioners, take the money off families, remove this tax cut which we’ve just provided to Australians. We want to make sure that these 7 million Australians get this tax cut, worth for many of them, around $300. So Mr Abbott is just going to claw that away and leave people a lot worse off.

KARINA CARVALHO: So why is support so low, given that people have known about this for so much time and we’ve just seen in the most recent poll that in fact the numbers are even wider apart in terms of who supports the carbon tax and who doesn’t?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well because until now people haven’t been able to see the real impact. And the real impact will of course be as we predict a modest increase in prices and the compensation or the assistance that we’re providing to pensioners and families will more than adequately cover those expected price rises. So I think that daily experience of people will now actually make people say, well it’s a good thing that we’re doing this, good for our country, good for our children, and grandchildren, and the Government has provided us with the extra assistance we need as our country makes this big environmental and economic change.

KARINA CARVALHO: Jenny Macklin you were in Melbourne yesterday with the Prime Minister as she spoke to people about the carbon tax, what were they telling you?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well exactly that. There were a lot of children there and parents were coming up to the Prime Minister saying to her that they understand that this is a really important change for their children’s sake. But we do have to as a country, do something about climate change, that we can’t just ignore it. And these parents also understand that they’re getting some extra assistance that is going to mean that their families can cover the expected price rises. But they also know that it’s a good way of saying to all of us, we can use less energy and of course, that will be good for the environment.

KARINA CARVALHO: Jenny Macklin, you’re also the Indigenous Affairs Minister. Today the Medical Journal of Australia has released its findings in Queensland that prisoners there, 73% of Indigenous men, and 86% of Indigenous women in Queensland prisons have a mental disorder. What is the Government doing about this?

JENNY MACKLIN: This is a very serious finding and of course the Government, both myself and the Minister for Mental Health, have been working very hard with Indigenous leaders on both mental illness, mental health strategies for Indigenous people, particularly looking at how we can combat suicide. We have established a group of people headed by Dr Tom Calma to advise us on these matters. We’re already putting additional funding into services for people in Indigenous communities. Most recently I’ve done that in the Northern Territory. But these are serious matters and they do require our continuing attention.

KARINA CARVALHO: So will greater resources in terms of mental health experts available to prisoners with mental illnesses, will that be made available?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well we’re certainly putting more resources into mental health services for people who live in Indigenous communities. We do understand that whether they’re in prison or not ….

KARINA CARVALHO: But what about in prisons?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well both in prison and not, I think we have to recognise it’s a problem in both circumstances. So yes, for people in prison but also for those who aren’t. These are very serious matters and yes we are putting additional resources in.

KARINA CARVALHO: And why are the rates so high amongst Indigenous prisoners?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think there’s a wide range of different reasons, and I think we have to be very sensitive about these issues. But most importantly, it is to take it seriously, to put the additional resources in to make sure that people are getting the treatment that they need.

KARINA CARVALHO: Jenny Macklin thank you for your time this morning.