ABC AM with Michael Brissenden
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Scott Morrison, good morning.
MINISTER MORRISON: Good morning.
BRISSENDEN: Why do you need a trial? Why not just let the programme begin?
MINISTER MORRISON: In going forward with this and acting on the Productivity Commission’s recommendation, there are a lot of integrity issues that need to be covered off and we’ve learnt that through the family day care sector where there have been quite a number of issues over many years. And so this pilot programme will cover 10,000 children, some 4,000 nannies over two years and we will work through all the various integrity and other operational issues to make sure that the programme after that period of time would be in a shape to then consider for broader application.
BRISSENDEN: So do you think there should be broader application?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well, we’ll have to work through the pilot programme first, but I think clearly the Productivity Commission, and we agree, and this is the feedback we’ve had from families as we’ve engaged in an extensive consultation process, that there are many families for whom mainstream child care services just don’t provide the support they need and they are shift workers but they’re also those in rural and regional areas and they’re families with children with special needs and they need the same support that other families need and that’s what this programme is all about.
BRISSENDEN: What kind of accreditation will nannies have to have? How do you know you’re not simply subsidising babysitting, for instance?
MINISTER MORRISON: They’ll have to be over 18, they’ll have to have a first aid qualification and they’ll also have to have a working with children qualification and they’ll also have to be provided through a registered service provider. So, there’ll also be integrity checks to ensure that basically family members aren’t picking up subsidies for work they’re already doing and they’re the sorts of issues that we need to work through over the pilot programme which is why you just don’t rush headlong into something like this, you get it right, you get the model right and you ensure it’s helping the people you want to help in these situations. It’s not intended as a replacement for mainstream child care services; it’s intended as a supplement for those families who need this kind of service so they can be in work and stay in work.
BRISSENDEN: Ok, but you have decided that they don’t need to have an early childhood education degree for instance. Child care workers do. Why should nannies be different?
MINISTER MORRISON: Because we’re talking about a different type of service. In many cases with shift workers we’re talking about a nanny who is there overnight. Well, they won’t be doing too much learning in the middle of the night. So it’s a different type of service, it’s not a mainstream service and if parents want to engage someone with an early childhood qualification, well of course they can, but we’re going to leave that choice up to the parents.
BRISSENDEN: Now, you’ve set the income threshold at $250,000. That allows a lot of pretty wealthy families to get a subsidy, doesn’t it?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well, that’s a maximum and it tapers off under the subsidy arrangement which would apply more generally which we’ll announce before the Budget, so I don’t think we’ll see much at that end of the spectrum. But, if you’ve got a child with special needs, particularly several, and you’re in a rural or regional area then this can occur and we don’t want to for the sake of having an arrangement which would cut off people in those sort of circumstances arbitrarily; we want to make sure that the programme is supporting people in areas of need. Now, that will be reviewed over the course of the pilot but as you said in your introduction, the programme is targeted towards low to middle income families primarily.
BRISSENDEN: So, how will the subsidy be delivered? Will it go directly to the families or to the nannies?
MINISTER MORRISON: It will go to a service provider who is providing the nanny in the same way that is the proposal from the Productivity Commission that all subsidies under any new arrangements will be provided directly to the service providers.
BRISSENDEN: Ok. Are we likely to see the rest of the child care package in the next few weeks before the Budget as well?
MINISTER MORRISON: Yes.
MINISTER MORRISON: Before the Budget.
BRISSENDEN: In the next couple of weeks then?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well, that’s when the Budget is.
BRISSENDEN: Ok. Now, all of this child care package is going to cost a considerable amount – some billions, although you haven’t said exactly how much. Presumably you’ll also need to find savings in your portfolio in other areas to pay for this, wouldn’t you?
MINISTER MORRISON: That’s right and we already have a number of savings measures unlegislated that are currently sitting in the Senate and that is the exact purpose for which those savings will be directed.
BRISSENDEN: And any indication of where those savings are going to come from?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well the Family Tax Benefit measures in particular, there were some payment freezes and threshold freezes and things of that nature which were in the previous Budget and those measures would be able to offset the costs of the new package.
BRISSENDEN: Now, Peter Costello writing this morning with some more Budget advice for your Government: don’t tax the rich, raise the GST, he says. He is right, isn’t he, that raising the GST by a small amount would produce more revenue?
MINISTER MORRISON: I’d go to the first point. I mean, the only people who want to increase taxes at the moment or change the tax system on things like negative gearing is the Labor Party. They’re the ones that are talking about putting taxes on superannuants earning $75,000 a year. So, I think Peter’s advice is probably even better directed than I think he’s intended to be directed at the Labor Party.
BRISSENDEN: Well, of course, but you’re the Government.
MINISTER MORRISON: Yes, and we’re not in the business of increasing taxes.
BRISSENDEN: Ok. I mean, you’ve got to find some money. It’s not just a spending problem that you’ve got at the moment, though, is it?
MINISTER MORRISON: I’d largely disagree with you. It’s the expenditure blow outs that have been the problem over the last six years. I mean, you don’t chase revenue shortfalls down a hole. What you do is you make sure that you get your spending under control because that’s what you can control. That’s what governments can control and that’s what this Government is doing and that’s what the last Government didn’t do. So, our focus is very much on ensuring that we are focusing on managing our expenditure.
BRISSENDEN: So there will be no tax increases at all anywhere?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well, Michael, as usual I’m not going to allow you to verbal me. Those are matters for the Treasurer. All I’m simply saying is that our focus is on expenditure and we’re not a Government that believes in higher taxes.
BRISSENDEN: Ok. Scott Morrison, thank you very much for joining us.
MINISTER MORRISON: Thanks, Michael.