Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Household Assistance Package, Schoolkids Bonus, Budget

Program: ABC Newsradio

E & OE – Proof only

MARIUS BENSON: Jenny Macklin, the Clean Energy Advance payments are heading out today. Can you just say who’s getting it and how much?

JENNY MACKLIN: From today 1.6 million Australian families who are on Family Tax Benefit will start to receive the payments. They’ll be paid into families bank accounts over this fortnight. They’ll receive up to $110 per child in a Clean Energy Advance and as I say it will go straight into their bank accounts.

MARIUS BENSON: And it’s raining money for some people at the moment because there’s also the School Kids Bonus?

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s a separate payment for families that have got children at school and that will be paid at the end of June, so families will get that extra money as we improve the arrangements under the Family Tax, under the Education Tax arrangements.

MARIUS BENSON: Okay going back to the Clean Energy Advance payments, the tax itself doesn’t start until July 1. Why is the compensation heading in a month and a half early?

JENNY MACKLIN: We wanted to make sure that families, pensioners, students, all of these people get this extra assistance in advance. We will also of course make sure that these increases are permanent and so over the next year, depending on people’s payment, whether it’s family payments or pensions, these increases will become permanent.

MARIUS BENSON: Now the money that is heading out under the Clean Energy Advance payments is being promoted under a $37 million, I think is the price tag on the ad campaign at the moment. That ad campaign has been criticised because it talks about compensation for the carbon tax without actually talking about the carbon tax and some see that as much too tricky?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think everybody knows we’re having a carbon price from the 1st of July, that’s no secret. But what people don’t know is what they’re entitled to so we wanted to make sure that for people who will be getting money straight into their bank accounts they know that this is coming and that if they want further information we’re letting them know where they can get that.

MARIUS BENSON: And the Government is arguing that on balance most people will be better off, they’ll be overcompensated for the carbon tax, is that the case?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well that’s certainly the case for millions of pensioners, for low income families who do need extra assistance. For pensioners, just to give you one example, there’s around a 20% buffer so we are providing extra assistance to people who are on fixed incomes because we know they have the most difficulty making ends meet.

MARIUS BENSON: There still seems to be some degree of public confusion about why they’re getting cash with one hand from the Government and getting a tax with the other. Can you explain the tactics involved in this give-away at one stage and then the tax coming in on July 1 between the two elements?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well of course we’re increasing, or introducing a price on carbon so that we can clean up the environment to make sure that we can reduce pollution. That’s the purpose of introducing a price on carbon. We know how important it is to address the problems of carbon pollution in our environment and the best way to do that, the most efficient way to do that is through a carbon price. But we don’t want to see families or pensioners suffer as a result so that’s why we’re making sure we provide this extra assistance.

MARIUS BENSON: And overall the carbon tax itself, is it the Government’s intention that it be revenue neutral, that all the money you get in tax goes out again in compensation and in assistance to industry?

JENNY MACKLIN: All the money is being used for either families or pensioners and there’s a whole range of different assistance going to industry.

MARIUS BENSON: And what would you say to people who might be puzzled that they’ve heard all this talk about tough budgets and the need to return to surplus, and there seems to be a lot of give-a-ways associated with it?

JENNY MACKLIN: We are returning the Budget to surplus and at the same time making sure that families get the benefit of the boom. That’s why as a result of last week’s Budget you can see that this Budget in Australia, unlike any other developed country around the world, is coming back to surplus. We’re making sure that we continue to have a strong economy but we also want to make sure that the benefits of this boom are spread as widely as possible and that’s why we are going to increase payments to families.

MARIUS BENSON: Jenny Macklin, thank you very much.

JENNY MACKLIN: Thank you Marius.