Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Household Assistance Package payments to pensioners, Australian Labor Party, Enterprise Migration Agreement

Program: ABC Newsradio

E & OE – Proof only

Subject: Household Assistance Package payments to pensioners, Australian Labor Party, Enterprise Migration Agreement

MARIUS BENSON: Jenny Macklin this is a day of largesse from the Government. You have the pensioners doing better today and you have better news again at the beginning of July?

JENNY MACKLIN: Yes good news for 3.2 million Australian pensioners who’ll start to receive extra money into their bank accounts from today. People will get their money into their bank accounts on their usual pension day. So for a single pensioner it will mean $250 extra and $380 extra for couples combined.

MARIUS BENSON: Can I just clarify that $380 for example for a couple, that will be paid over what period of time?

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s equivalent to nine months of compensation for the carbon price.

MARIUS BENSON: And there’s more good news from July 1?

JENNY MACKLIN: From July 1 of course the tax cuts start so that will be good news for millions of Australians, especially around 1 million Australians who’ll no longer have to fill out a tax return.

MARIUS BENSON: It seems to be raining money and good news. Why is the Government so unpopular?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well it is a very significant change that we’re making. Introducing a carbon price is a very important change for our economy and of course for the environment, so I can understand people’s concerns about it.

MARIUS BENSON: There is Government unity on these changes to pensions and to the tax regime. There is far from Government unity on another issue this morning which is the decision to allow in workers who are coming here for particular resource projects. A battle in Caucus is predicted tomorrow, which side of the battle will you be on?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well of course I’ll be supporting the Prime Minister. First and foremost Julia Gillard has made it plain that she supports Australian jobs. More than anything else that’s been this Government’s priority, and that’s clear if you look at Australia’s unemployment rate of 4.9%.

MARIUS BENSON: And is that enthusiasm to support Australian jobs the explanation for the report that Julia Gillard was furious with two Ministers, Chris Bowen and Martin Ferguson for their announcement on Friday that these new agreements allowing foreign workers into resource projects was going ahead?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I don’t have any comment to make about internal Government decision making. But what I do know is that we have a Prime Minister who is totally dedicated to making sure that Australia’s unemployment level is as low as possible, and making sure that coming back to today’s story, that we look after those who need our help and that’s why we are providing this extra assistance to pensioners.

MARIUS BENSON: There is clearly dissatisfaction in Caucus according to all reports. Can Labor go on with the present level of internal tensions, and particularly, with the present level of distraction from Craig Thompson, or does there have to be some resolution to remove him entirely from the calculation?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think what’s important is to actually concentrate on what we’re delivering. Two weeks ago we delivered the new Schoolkids Bonus through the Australian Parliament. We got it through in two days through the House and the Senate. We’re getting these Bills through the Parliament and I think that demonstrates that we are getting on with the job.

MARIUS BENSON: But those achievements that Labor Ministers often point to are running a distant second to the untidiness and scandals that Labor is mired in.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well nevertheless we’re able to do the job we’ve been elected to do. Just last week I got the new Dad and Partner pay through the House of Representatives, part of our Paid Parental Leave scheme. All of these changes are in fact taking place.

MARIUS BENSON: Jenny Macklin, thank you very much.

JENNY MACKLIN: Thank you Marius.