Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Anti-Poverty Week, Home Energy Saver Scheme, Tony Abbott, Cabinet leaks, Leadership, Carbon Price Legislation, Asylum Seekers – Doorstop, Melbourne

E & OE – Proof only

JENNY MACKLIN: I’m very pleased to be here at the start of Anti-Poverty Week to announce the Labor Government’s new Home Energy Saver Scheme. This is part of our program to build a clean energy future in Australia, to make sure that all Australians have got the chance to contribute to Australia being a cleaner energy community. This will mean that low income households will get extra support. People will go into their homes, look at how they can improve the way they use their appliances, look at how they can save energy in their home. People may be able to apply for no or low interest loans that will be run through Good Shepherd. Good Shepherd already runs a no interest loans scheme with the National Australia Bank, and we are very, very pleased to be able to support additional loans that Good Shepherd will offer to low income families to help them, for example, buy a new low energy washing machine, maybe a lower energy fridge. All aimed at making sure that people’s energy bills can be reduced. So we are very pleased at the start of Anti-Poverty Week to be able to add a new initiative, a Home Energy Saver Scheme to make sure that low-income people get extra support.

By contrast of course, Mr Abbott is saying that he will wreck all this. Mr Abbott will claw back the pension increases, claw back the family payment increases, claw back the tax cuts that the Labor Government is delivering to low and middle income families and to pensioners. Mr Abbott will rip money out of the pockets of pensioners, rip money out of the pockets of families, just because all he wants to say is ‘No’.

JOURNALIST: What kind of subsidies are lower income families going to get, say perhaps on a weekly basis?

JENNY MACKLIN: It really depends on their family circumstance. So just to give you an idea of a pensioner, for a pensioner they will get across a year an increase of just over $300 on their pension. As far as these no interest loans go, they can be worth between $900 and $1000 to buy a new piece of equipment. As I say, it might be a washing machine or a fridge.

JOURNALIST: Just on the cabinet leaks, how concerned are you about such explosive things getting out?

JENNY MACKLIN: I don’t talk about what goes on in Cabinet. I have absolutely no intention of changing that today. What I’m here to talk about today is what this Labor Government is doing to help people who are living in poverty. We are announcing today a new scheme that will make sure that low income Australians, low income families can get that extra support that they need to make a difference in their lives.

JOURNALIST: But are you concerned your colleagues may be leaking sensitive information?

JENNY MACKLIN: I have no intention of talking about cabinet matters. I never have and I’m not making any change today.

JOURNALIST: Would it be appropriate for the Prime Minister to read the riot act?

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s a matter for the Prime Minister. As I’ve said before, I’m here today to make sure that all of us together work to help people lift themselves out of poverty. This new scheme that we are announcing today, the Home Energy Saver Scheme, is all about that. All about giving people new skills and increased capacity to help them out of poverty.

JOURNALIST: But I guess these sorts of things continually deflect from all your good work and that must be frustrating.

JENNY MACKLIN: It’s great to be here today to see so many people who are committed to dealing with poverty. That’s what they’re interested in and that’s what they’ve come here to talk about.

JOURNALIST: But you must be disappointed by this.

JENNY MACKLIN: I’m very pleased to see all the people who are here today. Very pleased, and very pleased to have Good Shepherd, the National Australia Bank getting in behind the Government’s commitment to help people out of poverty.

JOURNALIST: How important is it that the integrity of the Cabinet is maintained?

JENNY MACKLIN: As I’ve said, I never have talked about what’s inside cabinet publicly, and I’m not starting today.

Today is all about demonstrating the practical ways in which we can help people who are in poverty, lift themselves out. There are so many wonderful examples of people with a small, no interest loan can really make a difference to their lives. Whether it’s by purchasing a laptop that means they can study and then get a job, or the person who bought a vehicle and then used that in her business. A mum who had seven children, she was doing all the washing by hand, she got her no interest loan for a washing machine. All of these are practical examples of how we can help people out of poverty. And all the people who are here today are very, very supportive of these changes.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

JENNY MACKLIN:I know what you’re asking. I’m here to talk about the important changes that we’re making for those Australians who are trying to lift themselves out of poverty.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) you can’t talk about what’s in Cabinet, we well understand that. But our question is not about what is being discussed in Cabinet, your frustration perhaps with some of the people potentially leaking things from Cabinet. We’re not asking about specifics about what is being discussed within Cabinet.

JENNY MACKLIN: And I’m not going to go into any of those matters because as you rightly point out, what we are here today to talk about is Anti-Poverty Week and the Labor Government’s determination to do everything possible to help people out of poverty.

JOURNALIST: Leadership continues to be the issue that is brought up. Is their any chance of a leadership change? Names like Kevin Rudd and Stephen Smith have been thrown around.

JENNY MACKLIN: I think the Prime Minister has this week demonstrated her determination to lead and to deliver a clean energy future for Australia. It is this Prime Minister who can be very proud of the fact that she has achieved the legislation through the House of Representatives this week that will make sure that we have a carbon price in Australia on 1 July next year. And part of that carbon price will see us giving extra support to low income families, to middle income families. Extra support to pensioners, extra support to people who might be able to take out a loan to help them get out of poverty.

By contrast we have the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Abbott, demonstrating that he just wants to wreck this scheme. Wreck it and take money out of the pockets of pensioners, out of the pockets of families. That is exactly what Mr Abbott intends to do. Rip that money off pensioners and families.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) someone leaking within Cabinet is doing a good job of wrecking things, not Mr Abbot by the sounds of things.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think Australians are actually interested in the real things that are going to impact on their lives. And the real things that will impact on their lives is Mr Abbott being determined to rip money out of their purses and wallets. That’s what will have an impact on their lives.

JOURNALIST: Does the leaking just highlight that maybe the Government isn’t unified, that (inaudible).

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think we saw this week that the Government is very unified. We are determined to introduce a price on carbon. The House of Representatives voted for that. It will come in on 1 July next year, and in addition to making sure that we deliver this major economic and environmental benefit for Australia, we also will make sure that there are positive changes made to help low and middle income families.

JOURNALIST: Is the Government now unanimous in its support for onshore processing for asylum seekers?

JENNY MACKLIN: The Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration made clear the Government’s position last week. What is very clear is that we would still like to deliver the Malaysian arrangement. Plainly, Mr Abbott and his wrecking tactics have prevented that. So there will be onshore processing. Of course, there has been onshore processing for a long time, that will continue.

JOURNALIST: What is the general feeling within the party at the moment?

JENNY MACKLIN: In general?

JOURNALIST: Well I mean given the leaks it’s been a huge week for you. You keep coming back to what is going on here today, but we want a broader picture of is the party unified? Are you concerned about leadership? Are you concerned about the leaks? I mean, surely that can’t make for a unified party.

JENNY MACKLIN: I’m very, very pleased with what we’ve achieved this week. We’ve been talking about a price on carbon for ten years in Australia. There has been a debate for ten years. Finally the House of Representatives, led by the Prime Minister of Australia, has voted to introduce a price on carbon. That is a very significant change. That is Australia saying we want to make sure that our children have a clean energy future. So I feel very, very positive about our country’s future, and I am very pleased that our Labor Government will do everything we possibly can to support low and middle income families and pensioners to make sure that as we introduce a price on carbon, they are provided with the assistance that they need.

JOURNALIST: And it wasn’t just Tony Abbott that got rid of offshore processing. It was also that Labor was divided over the issue, the Left wanted onshore processing as per the party platform. And is this now seen as a victory for the left side?

JENNY MACKLIN: The Prime Minister has with the Minister for Immigration set out the Government’s policy on migration, on the processing of asylum seekers. What we are on about now is making sure that we deliver the policies that Australians want to see us deliver. That’s why I think today is such an important day. It does demonstrate what this Labor Government is on about. Delivering for those Australians who need that extra assistance. This is the start of Anti-Poverty Week. This is what a Labor Government does. We step up and make sure that those people in Australia who need our support get it.