Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Family Tax Benefit Part A; Baby Bonus, Paid Parental Leave; Poker Machine Reform; Australian Labor Party; Great Barrier Reef; Asylum Seekers

Transcript of joint doorstop interview with:

The Hon Julia Gillard MP, Prime Minister


PM: Happy New Year to everyone. It’s great to be here in Smithfield and I’m joined today by my Parliamentary colleagues the Minister for Families and Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin and by the two Chrises, I’m joined by Chris Bowen who is here in his capacity as the Member for McMahon and by Chris Hayes here as the Member for Fowler. And we’re here today with an important announcement about a new benefit for families which starts today. This is good news for Australians families and good news for the Australian economy.

This is delivering on an election commitment that we made. Delivering on an election commitment to increase Family Tax Benefit for families with teenagers. Our current system of family payments basically assumes kids leave school at 16 and they go and get a job. Well that was the Australia of the past but we all know it’s not the Australia of today and it’s not going to be the Australia we want tomorrow. But currently families get a rude shock when their child turns 16. Their child is still at school, they still need feeding, they still need new clothes, they’ve still got all of the expenses of having a teenager in the household but their family benefit can drop by 67 per cent.

From today we are fixing that. Families with teenagers that are 16, 17, 18, 19 that are eligible can look forward to increased family payments. For a family on the maximum rate of family payment this will make a difference of around $4,200 a year. To put that in context, it’s around $160 per fortnight more than families have been receiving in the past.

So this is good news for families with teenagers. It’s also good news for the Australian economy because this benefit is tied to kids staying at school. Making sure they get that all important Year 12 or equivalent. Now whether they’re staying at school because they want to go to university, whether they’re staying at school to get the best possible skills for their job that they’re dreaming of, whether they’re staying at school to get a flying start through a school based apprenticeship program or using a trade training centre into an apprenticeship – we want kids staying at school.

All of the evidence tells us if kids drift away from school early then that can mean a lifetime of disadvantage. And we are concerned that for some low income families the cost of keeping their teenagers at school is just too much for them. So this today is good news for families under cost of living pressure. It’s also good news for the Australian economy because it will help keep kids at school.

I’ll turn now to Jenny Macklin for some comments then we’ll take questions.


MACKLIN: Thanks very much Prime Minister. Happy New Year everyone. I’d like to first of all thank the Huynh and Tran families very much for having us and having them in their home today and for especially having us here on New Year’s Day and welcoming us in the way that they have.

As the Prime Minister has just said, today is very good news for families particularly families of older teenagers. I think all of us know especially those of us with teenage children know that they don’t get cheaper as they get older and one of the major improvements that this Labor Government is delivering from today is an improvement to Family Tax Benefit for teenagers – for teenagers from 16 to 19. And if you’re on Family Tax Benefit Part A it will mean that you can get an increase of up to $4,200 extra a year if your young person is staying on at school or staying in vocational education.

So this is very, very important for families and also a very important encouragement to young people to stay on at school.

The evidence shows us that young people from lower income families are less likely to finish Year 12 or less likely to get a vocational equivalent to Year 12. We want that to change.

All of us know that young people are better off, going to get a better job if they stay on at school and this is all about helping their families to make sure they can better make ends meet with extra help from our Labor Government.

PM: Thank you. Very happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Will you be (inaudible) cut out levels for this benefit?

PM: I’ll get Jenny to do all the stats for you.

MACKLIN: So they way that it works, the largest benefit goes to those people on maximum rate of Family Tax Benefit. It varies depending on the number of children you have, but it’s around the high $40,000 family income mark but it really has a lot of things – the number of children, the age of the children, but it’s around that level.

JOURNALIST: Minister, was this announced during the election campaign?

MACKLIN: It was, as the Prime Minister has just said this is an election commitment that she made that this Labor Government is now delivering on.

I’ll just say one of the most disappointing comments that I’ve seen from the Leader of the Opposition in this regard, he said a few weeks ago that only the right children should stay on at school. Well that’s not our view. Our view is that all children should have the chance to stay on at school and get the best education because all of us know that that means they’ve got the best chance to get a decent job.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) will some of these gains be swallowed up in areas like the Baby Bonus being scaled back and here in New South Wales concessions for first home buyers being (inaudible) back?

PM: Well the concession for first home buyer’s scheme you refer to is a state government scheme, on the Baby Bonus Minister Macklin will answer.

MACKLIN: The Baby Bonus changes of course happen at a different stage of life so one of the things that we’re fixing is a real anomaly, a real change that needed to be made to the Family Tax Benefit system.

Parents at the moment get a terrible shock when their children turn 16 and they find their Family Tax Benefit goes down dramatic even though the costs of raising children at that age generally goes up. So we’re fixing a very significant problem that did exist for families and this has never been done before.

With the Baby Bonus we want to make sure that the Family Tax Benefit system is sustainable so from September next year the Baby Bonus will be at $5,000 but of course it is our Government that has also introduced Paid Parental Leave, the first national Paid Parental Leave scheme and today is the first birthday of our national Paid Parental Leave scheme.

We’ve got around 120,000 families who’ve so far benefitted from our paid parental leave scheme.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister how will the Government respond to Victoria’s rejection of the mandatory pre-commitment laws?

PM: Oh, sorry you’re on a different topic altogether aren’t you? Look we’re continuing to work on poker machine reform. As I’ve said in the past I am concerned about the damage that pokies can do to families. I’ve seen it in my own electorate in Melbourne’s west where we do in my electorate office get people in real distress come in because they or a family member have got an addiction problem and they’ve literally put that week’s rent or that month’s mortgage payment down into the pokies and made a big, big problem for their family as a result. So I am concerned about poker machines and the damage that they can do.

Minister Macklin is leading the Government’s efforts and we’re continuing to work on poker machine reform including continuing discussions with our state colleagues.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating continue to argue today about who was really behind the floating of the Australian dollar. Who do you think is really telling the truth?

PM: Well, giving my age away, when we’re looking back at Cabinet documents that are 30 years old, the Cabinet documents that have been released for public display today, I was 20 or 21 when those Cabinet documents were being generated. So I wasn’t around that Cabinet table. Consequently it’s Bob or Paul who’ll have to answer those questions for you.

But it was an important reform to give birth to the modern Australian economy. And in that tradition today as a Labor Government we are continuing to deliver the reforms that will give us the economy we need for the future.

We built the foundation stones last year – rolling out the NBN, the Clean Energy Future package and the Minerals Resource Rent Tax and in 2012 we will be building on those foundations to generate Australia’s future economy.

JOURNALIST: Will 2012 be a year free of leadership speculation?

PM: 2012 is going to be a year in which we are building the economy of the future as well as continuing to deliver fairness.

When I looked at the documents released in today’s newspapers from all those years ago, one thing that struck me was a reminder of the Labor Government building Medicare against strident opposition from the Liberal Party.

Here, today we are committed to building a National Disability Insurance Scheme, another big engine room of fairness for the Australians who need that help the most.

JOURNALISTS: (Inaudible)

PM: Yes.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) just a response to calls to redraw the boundaries of the Great Barrier Reef from the (inaudible) – what’s your response to that?

PM: Look that’s a question ultimately for Minister Burke in terms of any park boundaries so I’ll leave that to him.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister do you support a return to Nauru as part of a compromised agreement (inaudible) and how close are you to another meeting with the Opposition?

PM: Well negotiations are continuing and it’s not my intention to have a running commentary on those negotiations in the media. We want them to continue in good faith and good will.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister how confident are you that you’ll be Prime Minster by the end of 2012?

PM: I think you’ll find I answered those questions in 2011, so have a look at the transcripts.

Thank you very much.