Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Paid Parental Leave, Stimulus Payments, Tangentyere – Doorstop

JENNY MACKLIN: First of all if I can just say thank you to GetUp and thank you to the two mothers who came along today who indicated to all of us just why paid maternity leave is so important to them. As you are aware we asked the Productivity Commission to do a major inquiry into paid parental leave. They produced a draft outline of proposed paid parental leave scheme last September. They just recently presented the Government with their final report. That report will be tabled in Parliament and of course at this point the Government is giving it very serious consideration.

INTERVIEWER: Why is paid paternity leave important do you think?

JENNY MACKLIN: The reason we asked the Productivity Commission to do this inquiry is because we do understand just how important it is, especially for mothers to be able to take some time off after the birth, to recover from the birth, but also to have that time with her baby to bond with the baby. We also understand how important it is for the dads so there’s a lot of evidence about the importance of those early months to a baby’s life and to a baby’s development. We also understand how important it is to parents, particularly mothers and their relationship with their work. So they were the driving forces behind us giving this request to the Productivity Commission.

INTERVIEWER: Would you expect a backlash from Australian women who voted for Labor on the premise that they thought they would be getting a paid maternity leave scheme if it’s not in the May Budget?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think what’s important is that we have had this major review done by the Productivity Commission. We’ve now received their report and we will give it proper and serious consideration. We’re under an obligation to table it so it will be tabled but we haven’t made a final decision about when yet.

INTERVIEWER: The ACTU have said that they would accept a sort of delay in introducing it if you committed to it in this Budget and sort of stipulated how you’d role it out, is that something you would consider?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well there’s a range of different views of course. Many of those were put in public submissions to the Productivity Commission inquiry and there’s been more public comment since the Productivity Commission finished their inquiry. We’ll take all of those views into account as we go through our deliberations.

INTERVIEWER: Ms Macklin in simple language can you please explain, I’m just talking about the stimulus package, why are non residents, non citizens receiving the stimulus bonus?

JENNY MACKLIN: As you’re aware we pay these payments to people who are resident in Australia, who are receiving funds from overseas as part of an international social security arrangement. There are hundreds of thousands of people from the United Kingdom, from Greece, from Italy who receive pension payments from overseas. We in fact receive far more in pension payments from overseas than go from Australia to other countries as a result of these social security arrangements. These arrangements have been in place for many many years. Both sides of politics support them. We understand how important it is for migrants to have access to these arrangements.

INTERVIEWER: So how many, how many non citizens are receiving the stimulus bonus?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well, I’d have to get back to you with the figure of non citizens, but the critical point I think you’re driving at is in relation to the pension payments. I just want to say something very clear today about pensions. We made the payments we made in December as a down payment on pension reform. We’ve given a commitment to Australian pensioners that we will deliver pension reform in the upcoming Budget, and in December we made significant down payments to pensioners, $1,400 for single pensioners, $2,100 for couple pensioners. That was the basis of the reform that we are putting in place. We want to give additional support to pensioners and what the December payments were all about for pensioners, delivering on our commitment to pension reform.

INTERVIEWER: This scheme may be in place but why not exclude these one off payments to these non citizens?

JENNY MACKLIN: Because it was all about delivering a down payment to pensioners on pension reform. Everyone who is listening today knows that pensioners in Australia are doing it tough. All of them are really finding it hard to make ends meet. We have given a commitment to pensioners that we will deliver pension reform and the payments that were made in December were a significant down payment on that pension reform.

INTERVIEWER: Do you make any apology whatsoever for helping bolster other countries’ economies by giving these one off payments to non citizens?

JENNY MACKLIN: What I’m committed to doing is making sure that we deliver to pensioners. We delivered these down payments in December, down payments on pension reform that pensioners certainly need. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t think it’s a good idea to give a payment to pensioners, except maybe Tony Abbott, he seems to think that they didn’t need it. But other than Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party, everyone else I speak to in Australia says that it’s important to deliver reform to pensioners.

INTERVIEWER: On an indigenous affairs issue, have you decided to grant an extension to the negotiation period for the Tangentyere Town Camp area?

JENNY MACKLIN: We haven’t made any final decision on Tangentyere Town Camp issue, we’re still in discussions with them.

INTERVIEWER: The deadline expired two weeks ago.

JENNY MACKLIN: We’re still considering.

INTERVIEWER: Six times this deadline has expired, when will the Federal Government step in and make something happen.

JENNY MACKLIN: We’re still considering the issue.

INTERVIEWER: A number of your Labor backbench colleagues have come out publicly and said that they want to see paid maternity in this Budget, how much support and pressure is there within the Party to have it in this Budget?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well we understand how important this is, that’s why we asked the Productivity Commission to undertake this major inquiry. It is a very significant piece of work that they’ve undertaken and we will consider the report very seriously.