Omnibus Savings and Childcare Reform Bill 2017
… unsurprisingly I’m very keen to talk about the Government’s child care reforms.
Labor has placed Australians in a position where they could conceivably prevent one million Australian families from benefitting from more accessible and affordable child care.
They seem hell-bent on stopping 230, 000 Australians accessing better child care so that they can work for the first time, or work more.
Labor seem, bizarrely, hell-bent on stopping 96, 000 Australian mums from lower income families from getting an extra two weeks with their child after birth and an extra $1300 financial assistance after the birth of their child.
This is once in a generation reform to child care that Australian families are absolutely screaming out for. We have designed a system, we’ve presented a plan that shows how massive benefits can flow to Australian families, how they can be paid for, how it will be structured.
There is no alternative plan from Labor other than to complain and stop up from doing what we went to an election and told people we wanted to do.
We are here today talking to the Australian people and saying – we have a plan that can have massive benefit for hard-working young Australian families.
With the Family payments cut, the Prime Minister hasn’t said how many people would have their payments cut. Labor’s said its nearly [INAUDIBLE] the governments figure.
Labor said that there’ll be more than a million people who will lose out. But there’s an interaction here between three things – the drawing down and closing of end of year supplements in Family Tax Benefits; a $20 increase to virtually all the families in the Family Tax Benefit system; but the third and most important thing is that people inside the Family Tax Benefit system have many children of child care age or afterschool care age who want to get into the workforce and want to earn more money.
So in the Family Tax Benefits system there’s around about a million children between zero and six – child care age – and I think there’s just over a million children at after-school care age. And these are the families that can benefit from working more, more hours, or indeed having mum engage in the workforce for the first time.
And what we know is that 230,000 Australian families say that the reason that they’re prevented from working for the first time, or working more, is because of the fact that the child care is in desperate need of reform.
[INAUDIBLE] attention to the fact that this Bill also pushes young job seekers [INAUDIBLE] costing them about $55 a week?
A couple of things – that is a re-entering of parliament of a measure that has been put in Parliament before, it’s no secret.
It has a measure that has been out there for some time. It’s a measure that we openly took to the election.
The situation that exists at the moment is, say for instance a 23 year old can choose between Youth Allowance Student and Newstart. Now yes the Newstart payment is slightly more than the Youth Allowance Student payment. However, the Youth Allowance Student payment allows you to earn a lot more before you start to lose any benefit.
But the point is this: is that allowing a choice for a 23 year old between a payment that allows them to study and a slightly higher Newstart payment actually dis-incentivises young Australians to study, and that can’t be a system that persists. This is a very carefully thought through reform which is about trying to create the right incentives to create the best future for young Australians.
And as I say, if a young Australian moves from Newstart to Youth Allowance Student, or Youth Allowance Other, as it’s known, they can earn more money and make up the difference without it affecting a single dollar of their welfare than had they been on Newstart.
So, this is not something new, it’s certainly something defensible, and it’s something that we’re doing for a clear reason – which is to create the right incentives to get young Australians studying and making sure they’ve got the best future.
[INAUDIBLE] Family Tax Benefit payments cut. How many?
There are around about 1.5 million people in the Family Tax Benefit system. The supplements are scaled down for all of the people in the system.
Then there is a $20 increase, and those two things interact.
I can’t give you an exact figure as to how many people will actually utilise more and better and improved child care. That’s a behavioural response.
But what we do know is that there are millions of children inside the Family Tax Benefit system, of child care or after school care age. So it is up to each individual family to make their own choices.
Have you done any modelling on what you expect the behavioural changes will be?
Based on information from the Productivity Commission, there were 230,000 Australians that we estimate who have said that thing that was preventing them, the mothers particularly in those families, from entering the workforce for the first time, or engaging in more work was the fact that child care in this country became inflationary under Labor, is complicated and is hard to access. And these are the things that we’re trying to fix.
George Christensen signalled that he might cross the floor to vote with the Opposition on a Banking Royal Commission. Is that unhelpful?
I haven’t seen exactly what George has had to say.
George says a number of things a number of times, so I’ll go back and see what he’s got to say. But I’m sure that that won’t occur.
You’ve tried and failed with measures included in this Bill, like that four week delay to get on to the JobSeeker Allowance for young people. Is there any room to move there? If the Senate baulks against that again, are you prepared to scrap that to get this Bill through?
There are around about 16 measures in this Bill. Most of them, as I pointed out, are measures that we’ve been brought before the Parliament before.
With respect to Paid Parental Leave and Family Tax Benefit, there are some modifications to the position. So we are open, obviously, in our discussions with the crossbench to further modify positions on any single element of the overall suite of measures. But we think the measures as they appear are reasonable in all the circumstances, that they’re justifiable, they’re well known, they were taken to a full election and argued for by our Government. And I think that really does stand for something with respect for the Senate, we do have a mandate to make these changes because they were never a secret, they were absolutely taken to a full election.
So of course we’re willing to compromise, as we’ve shown, but there’s always going to be limits to that.
Nothing is certain with respect to the Senate crossbenchers until things go to the Senate for a vote. But I would say that with respect to the changes to Paid Parental Leave where 96,000 mums would get an extra two weeks and an extra $1300, with respect to the changes to Family Tax Benefit, where virtually all the families in the system would get a $20 fortnightly increase – the reason that we’ve entered into those modifications to those positions is that, based on months of discussions with the crossbench we think that they’re the changes that give those measures the greatest chance of successfully being navigated through the Senate.