Sky News First Edition
KIERAN GILBERT: Minister Morrison thanks very much for your time. This $3.5 billion dollar child care package it is dependent on the family payment changes getting through the Senate. How are the prospects on that looking?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well we’ve started those discussions. I’ve been in discussion with them for some time just I have been on the pension changes that we released last week as well. And look we will proceed with these discussions. We are putting forward a very responsible position here which says we want to invest $3.5 billion dollars in low to middle income families, families who are vulnerable, disadvantaged we want to do that through child care support which helps them be in work, stay in work, get in work, study all of these things. And to do that we want to make savings in the Social Services portfolio rather than go out and tax people. So we think that’s a responsible thing to do and we will work that through.
GILBERT: But Labor blocked it last year, as did the crossbench – these changes to the Family payments, the halting of the Family Tax Benefit Part B for example when children hit six. Do you accept their argument that children don’t get less expensive beyond the age of six? Why would the Government target that age?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well the measure that was introduced last year was all about recognising the fact that, yes, children don’t get any less expensive when they grow up but they do go to school when they turn six. They are in a different situation when they are six through to twelve as indeed they are when they go to high school in terms of the support for people to be at home and providing that support to them when they are there. We spend $20 billion on Family Tax Benefits now, the Labor Government ripped over their Budget and forward estimates over the six years they were there some $15 billion out of that – over the course of their Government. Now $20 billion a year, we’re currently spending around $7 billion on child care and what we are doing is putting more investment into helping families have the choice because frankly they just have to be in paid employment, for many of them they just don’t have a choice and they are denied the ability to do that because they end up just working for child care rather than child care working for them.
GILBERT: What about the situation with the activities requirements changing because clearly some couples, some parents, aren’t out of work out of choice they’re not stay-at-home parents out of choice, they want to work. So if their child care subsidies are reduced doesn’t that then make it harder for individuals to find jobs because they are at home caring for their kids because they can’t afford child care?
MINISTER MORRISON: No, because the activity test recognises peoples effort to go and find work through the employment programme. So if you are looking for work, if you’re in work, if you’re studying to improve your skills to be in a job and it even recognises formal volunteering roles as well, all of that is covered off in the activity test. This is all about helping people get on to that rung of paid employment, where they really have to….
GILBERT: But you need to show your willingness to look for a job?
MINISTER MORRISON: You’ve got to be in there looking for a job and that’s why we would provide support in those circumstances. Now for those on under $65,000 we have said very clearly we will retain that two day access a week to early childhood learning, two six hour sessions – if the sector wants to provide it in a different way that’s up to them. But twelve hours a week, I mean kids got to school for six hours a day not twelve hours a day and we are providing for two six hour sessions per week for children from families on low incomes.
GILBERT: But the biggest back flip in this though has to be the paid parent leave approach because the Prime Minister only recently was saying that families should get six months at their full replacement wage. Now the Treasurer and the Government are suggesting that people are double dipping?
MINISTER MORRISON: They are.
GILBERT: But the architect of the scheme, one of the advisors to the government on it, was quoted in the Herald saying this is the way it was designed, as a modest scheme to compliment private sector ones.
MINISTER MORRISON: We disagree. If you are working for a small business and you are not getting paid parental leave why should you not get the advantage of two paid parental leave schemes? Why can someone working for a big bureaucracy get one paid parental leave scheme and then turn around to the taxpayer and ask for another one – or working for a large corporate, it’s just about fairness.
GILBERT: But a large corporate that gives you six weeks – a large corporate that gives someone six weeks as opposed to six months. If they pay you six weeks you lose the Government paid parental leave.
MINISTER MORRISON: No, you get the difference between what you might have got from your employer. If that’s still less than what you have got from the government you’ll get the top up. The point is here is everyone gets the same thing. If you work for a big employer you shouldn’t be able to get twice the paid parental leave of someone who doesn’t, that just not fair. That’s why we’re shutting it down.
GILBERT: But the Productivity Commission was talking about six months of paid parental leave scheme and how was that fair when it was paid on the individual’s wage?
MINISTER MORRISON: We’re not proceeding with that scheme. That’s old news Kieran, that one’s gone.
GILBERT: But the same principle applies and it’s quite a sharp turnaround in thinking because the Prime Minister was going to pay people on their wage. How was that fair when you’re going to go to a big corporate, a bureaucracy, you earn $150,000 got that money?
MINISTER MORRISON: Everyone was getting the same thing under that scheme.
GILBERT: No they weren’t.
MINISTER MORRISON: Everyone was getting it based on the same entitlement around their wage. What this is is a flat scheme, that’s what we’ve gone with, that’s what we all decided to do when we walked away from the other scheme and you shouldn’t be able to double dip just because your employer gives you a generous programme, the taxpayer shouldn’t then come and top that up twice. We’re making sure everyone getting the same…
GILBERT: Sometimes employers don’t give generous programmes. I know of a lawyer in Canberra she gets six weeks, how is that generous?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well she will get the balance through the paid parental leave scheme which is provided by the taxpayer. She will get the same thing as someone working for the bakery and that’s the important thing here we are getting rid of what is an inequity and frankly in many cases I think is a rort.
GILBERT: So the Prime Minister has had a ‘road to Damascus’ conversion on all of this?
MINISTER MORRISON: No, this is about fairness.
GILBERT: In the last month?
MINISTER MORRISON: That was a different scheme. We didn’t proceed with that scheme. We’re now dealing with a scheme now of 18 weeks and everyone gets the same 18 weeks, whether they get it from their employer or they get it from the taxpayer.
GILBERT: Well that was the argument to the Prime Minister all along and it took him years to realise it.
MINISTER MORRISON: You don’t get to double dip. That’s the point and it’s an integrity measures. It’s going to save the Budget a billion dollars and I think everyone who doesn’t get to double dip will go “fair enough”.
GILBERT: Ok, let’s finish with this report today in The Australian suggesting that you discussed with the Prime Minister last week your ambition for the Treasury position. Is that right?
MINISTER MORRISON: It’s absolute rubbish. It is complete absolute rubbish. I mean I don’t know what people are on in this town with all this nonsense going on but this is total and utter nonsense.
GILBERT: Ok, we will leave it there. That’s pretty emphatic.
MINISTER MORRISON: It is, thanks Kieran.