Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Families in Australia: 2008, Economic Security Strategy payments


JENNY MACKLIN: First of all I am very pleased to be here with my colleague Kelvin Thompson who’s the local member for this area, and I would also like to thank the Playgroups Association and this local playgroup for having us here today. And letting us get down and doing some painting and other exciting things with the kids. This is a terrific report which I am releasing today, Families in Australia: 2008, and it really does provide a snapshot of the nature of Australian families and how things have changed over the last ten to twenty years. The Australian Government made a commitment before the election that we would publish this report, publish a report on the state of families in Australia, so I am very pleased today to be able to release this report and also in so doing meet one of our election commitments.

One of the very interesting findings in this report is the significant way in which fertility rates have changed in Australia especially over the last twenty years. Up until ten years or so ago, it certainly was the case that you would have seen more mothers having their first baby in their twenties, and now as we see in this report there’s been a significant shift to more mothers having their first baby once they turn thirty. And many of the mothers who I have just spoken with here at this playgroup today have confirmed that that’s exactly their experience and the experience of their friends. Many of the mothers here today didn’t have their first baby until they turned thirty or older and the reasons they gave were for one of them, they hadn’t met Mr Right, but for others it was about making sure that they were financially secure. So the other serious finding in this report is the significant pressure that many many families are under. Significant financial pressure, significant pressures balancing their work and family responsibilities. That’s why the Government in coming into office earlier this year decided to give a reference to the Productivity Commission to ask them to do a major inquiry into paid parental leave. I was very pleased to see one dad here joining this playgroup today because we know that parental leave is important for both mothers and fathers as they balance their work and family responsibilities. We expect to get the final report from the Productivity Commission about paid parental leave in February next year.

The second major area that we’ve embarked upon is a very very big inquiry into our tax and family payment system, and the Treasurer is today releasing a major discussion paper that puts forward where we’re up to in that regard, and that tax and family payments inquiry will be reporting back to the Government next year.

You’d also all be aware that we do recognise that many many families are under significant financial pressure and this report today confirms that. That’s one of the reasons that we decided to target additional financial support to families as part of our Economic Security Strategy Payments and by Friday this week, $5billion will be paid out as part of our Economic Security Strategy Payments, both to families, and to pensioners and carers. Over to you.

REPORTER: So those families who are receiving payments, those that are on Family Tax Benefit A, would you advise them to spend or save that money?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well we are saying to families that if they spend this money, and of course we expect them to spend it responsibly, and the vast majority of people I’m speaking to are planning to do just that, that they spend it because it will help really protect Australian jobs. We do understand that in the end it is a matter for families to decide, it’s a matter for pensioners to decide, but we also know and this report today confirms it, that many many families are under financial pressure and this additional money that they’re receiving in this fortnight will really help them provide for their families, buy extra clothes for the kids, do other things that families need.

REPORTER: If they are under pressure wouldn’t it be better for them to save the money then?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well if they’re under financial pressure of course they’ve got things that they need to buy and in many circumstances it will be things that they need for their children.

REPORTER: We’re a couple of minutes up the road from an ABC Learning Centre, why didn’t you do this doorstop interview there?

JENNY MACKLIN: I understand the Deputy Prime Minister is doing separate media on that issue today, and that issue is in her portfolio.

REPORTER: So you’re not sure when families with their kids enrolled at ABC Learning Centres will find out what’s happening with …

JENNY MACKLIN: You should talk to the Deputy Prime Minister about that, I’m sure she will have further advice from people today.

REPORTER: Another question, with the changing fertility rates, do you then subscribe to Peter Costello’s idea of one for the country, would you like to see women and men also their partners making more decisions to have more children?

JENNY MACKLIN: I think this is entirely a matter for families. Our objective is to support families in as many ways as we possibly can. That’s what the Government’s been busy doing this year. We provided very significant tax cuts for families in our first budget, we provided a significant increase in the child care tax rebate that came into effect this year. We’ve also created an education tax refund to help families with children at school. We have made changes to the baby bonus, we’ve embarked on the Productivity Commission inquiry into paid parental leave. We’ve done a lot in our first year. We know there’s more to do. We’re providing a $1,000 per child to parents who’ve got, who are receiving Family Tax Benefit A. We know that families are under pressure and that’s why in our first year, we’ve been hard at work to do everything we can to support them.

Thank you.