Welfare reforms and paid parental leave – Doorstop, Parliament House, Canberra
E & OE – Proof only
JOURNALIST: The Opposition has now said that they’ll support your welfare reforms, how do you feel about that?
JENNY MACKLIN: This is a very significant reform, these welfare changes will really pave the way for a different approach to welfare in this country. This Government really wants to see people who are receiving welfare payments taking personal responsibility, both for themselves and for their children, and particularly to do everything we can to make sure we encourage parents to get their children to school, to get young people into work and training. So I’m very pleased that this legislation now looks like it will go through the Senate.
JOURNALIST: Has the Government had to make any changes to the legislation to get the support from the Opposition?
JENNY MACKLIN: No.
JOURNALIST: And criticism that there haven’t been enough (inaudible) evidence of the current intervention working, what do you say to those detractors?
JENNY MACKLIN: I think it’s important to look at the very extensive evidence that is available about how income management has supported families and particularly children in the Northern Territory. We have done a major consultation with thousands of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. More than 500 meetings were conducted and there were different points of view put, but the majority view was certainly that income management had been very helpful, very beneficial. There’s also been various surveys done of the stores of the food that’s been sold in those stores. We’ve seen an increase in the purchase of food in those stores. So I think it is important to look at the evidence and look at the positive way in which it’s been received by many, many families in the Northern Territory. We’re also seeing evidence from Western Australia where many people are saying to us that as a result of the changes that we’ve made to income management in that state, that income management has been a very beneficial tool to individuals and families.
JOURNALIST: When do you expect it to be rolled out?
JENNY MACKLIN: We, if the legislation goes through the Parliament this week as we anticipate, then we’ll be starting to introduce the changes in July and we expect to have it fully rolled out in the Northern Territory by the end of this calendar year. We then will review and do a proper evaluation of the implementation of the welfare reforms by the end of 2011, before we seek to roll it out to other disadvantaged parts of Australia.
I might just make a comment, I see that Barnaby Joyce has also been making comments about paid parental leave today. Barnaby Joyce, the Finance spokesperson for the Opposition has really belled the cat today. Barnaby Joyce, unlike Tony Abbott, understands that the Opposition’s great big new tax is going to lead to an increase in the cost of food, increase in the cost of petrol, and other essentials that families and pensioners are going to have to pay. Barnaby Joyce understands that this great big new tax is going to hurt pensioners, it is going to hurt families. It is going to result in increased prices.