Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Cape Lambert, rate rise, Newspoll, paid parental leave – Sky PM Agenda

Program: Sky PM Agenda

*** E & OE – Proof only ***

KIERAN GILBERT: Joining me now the Families Minister Jenny Macklin. Jenny Macklin thank you very much for joining us. Before we get to…

JENNY MACKLIN: My pleasure.

KIERAN GILBERT: …your portfolio, a couple of issues I want to touch on. Cape Lambert is an iron ore company, it’s become the first – it’s based in WA – it’s become the first company to cancel work in Australia due to the proposed 40 per cent tax. That’s got to be a worry for you.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well this is the first I’ve heard of this, Kieran and of course you’d expect me to want to get the details before commenting. But I would just go to the fundamental point of the reforms that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer announced on Sunday, and that is to make sure that all of the Australian people are able to share in the wealth that is generated by our mining companies. But I’m not able to comment on any detail, it’s only just been announced.

KIERAN GILBERT: Okay. Well as the Minister for Housing it’s one of your hats. Rates have gone up again today, sixth time in eight months, we’ve seen housing affordability sky rocket in terms of the prices over the last year to March. This is just more pressure on that sector. Should the Government be reining in the spending?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well we certainly are reining in our spending, we understand how important it is to have a tight budget that keeps a very close watch on every single cent that we are spending in the budget. And I can assure you that that’s exactly what the Expenditure Review Committee has been doing over the last few months.

We have also of course put in place a number of measures through our housing initiatives to add to housing supply. We’re of course building more than 19,000 new public housing units, we’ve put in place a new national rental affordability scheme and we also have a housing affordability fund to bring down the costs of development.

We understand how important it is to…

KIERAN GILBERT: But economists are calling on you – economists are today calling on the Government to recalibrate the spending further ahead of the Government’s third budget next week, to reign it in further than what you’re doing. If the RBA’s got the foot on the brakes should the Government be re-looking at the spending even more closely?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think you’ll see when the Treasurer stands up next Tuesday night that he is taking a very responsible approach to the Australian economy. He understands it is very important to keep spending under control. And this budget will do exactly that.
KIERAN GILBERT: Okay. On the issue of the Newspoll we’ve seen the Government for the first time behind the Coalition, first time in four years I should say, the Prime Minister’s approval rating also down. It’s been a difficult time for the Government, does this polling – these numbers come as a surprise to you?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well we’ve got a lot of very big issues on our plate. You’d be aware that the Prime Minister has just negotiated one of the most significant agreements with the states and territories on health and hospitals reform that will see a very very substantial improvements to our hospitals system and to our primary healthcare system.

He’s also, with the Treasurer, just on Sunday announced major reforms to our tax system. These are very very substantial changes that the Government is working on. That’s where our focus is.

Today I’ve just released Australia’s first paid parental leave legislation. That’s what we’re doing, we’re delivering for the Australian people, that’s what our focus is. And I’m sure you don’t expect me to comment on any detail of any particular poll.

KIERAN GILBERT: No well I’ll get to the paid parental leave scheme in a moment, but you know the Government has back-flipped on a number of issues in the last few weeks from the insulation program, scrapping that, to the ETS, the monumental change in focus on that. But also in you area, you had promised to build 260 childcare centres, now you’re just building 38. Is this Government being seen by people to be – well are people asking what this Prime Minister, what this Government stands for now?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well and I can just go through the things that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer and I have all been announcing in the last few weeks; the most substantial reforms to hospital and health since the introduction of Medicare, major changes to our tax system, very substantial improvements to superannuation, the first national paid parental leave…

KIERAN GILBERT: But there are a lot of promises not delivered…

JENNY MACKLIN: …scheme in Australia. All of these changes…

KIERAN GILBERT: There are a lot of promises not delivered though, Minister aren’t there?

JENNY MACKLIN: …are very substantial. And there are a heck of a lot of things that we’re getting our teeth stuck in to and delivering.

KIERAN GILBERT: Okay. Well on the parental leave scheme you’ve released the detail today. Are you willing to compromise at all with the Coalition? You know they want a more generous scheme, as do the Greens, are you willing to compromise at all on this?

JENNY MACKLIN: I think it’s a bit rich to hear the opposition talk about pressure on business when we know that what they’ve proposed is a $3 billion tax on business that would see the cost of everything that’s sold at Woolies, Coles, Target you name it, whatever is bought by families would go up in cost because of the extra tax that Tony Abbott wants to put on business to pay for paid parental leave. That’s not the approach that the Government is taking. We’re taking a more balanced approach, a more responsible approach. It will be a Government funded scheme, it’s a scheme that will see 18 weeks of paid parental leave delivered to families, to mothers and fathers, paid at the federal minimum wage.

It’s a scheme that we can afford, fully costed, fully budgeted for and we’ve just released the legislation today, a very big day for Australian families, and particularly I might say a great day for Australian babies who can now look forward to more time with mum and dad at home.

KIERAN GILBERT: But are you willing to compromise at all on this issue? On this legislation?

JENNY MACKLIN: We want to introduce the scheme that we’ve just released today, Kieran. It’s been through an enormous period of consultation, of course it arises from a very substantial piece of work done by the Productivity Commission. We’ve consulted with business, with families, with unions, and really the most important thing now is to get on and implement it so it is available for families from 1st January next year.

KIERAN GILBERT: Jenny Macklin, as always appreciate your time on PM Agenda. Thank you.