Transcript by The Hon Christian Porter MP

Channel Ten – The Project


PRESENTER: Now let’s talk through the Government’s proposed welfare changes. We’re speaking with Australia’s new Social Services Minister, Christian Porter. Christian, Joe Hockey said goodbye today, what’s the mood like in the Parliament when such a long-serving pollie checks out?

MINISTER PORTER: Well look, I think it’s like when one of your colleagues leaves work, you wish them the best and you hope they’re going to different and great things. Joe was much loved and he’s been here for twenty years, I’ve only been here for two. But every encounter I’ve had with Joe, he’s been a great guy to deal with.

PRESENTER: Christian congratulations on your press conference this morning. I just want to play you something you said.

RECORDING OF MINISTER PORTER: I’ll confess to you, I’ve never physically sort of stepped into this room before in Parliament House – first time, I’m sure you’ll be very gentle with me, and I do bring a very large package.

PRESENTER: Could you have chosen your words a little bit more carefully there, Minister?

MINISTER PORTER: Yeah great first hit-out really, let’s be honest. I’ll live that down really quickly. A very forgiving lot here, so they never remember when you make a mistake like that. Should be fine. Should be fine.

PRESENTER: Minister let’s talk about that package. You announced this new softer set of cuts to family welfare. But, it’s still going to hit families in the hip pocket, isn’t it?

MINISTER PORTER: Well look, there are some issues here which not everyone’s going to love, right. And what we’ve done is we have looked at some supplements that were given over in the Howard years in 2004 when, you know, life was very different. There was a huge budget surplus, and also these supplements were meant to occur at the end of the year to help people with a debt that many people were accumulating. But technology is soon going to be available so that those debts don’t arise anywhere near the rate that they did previously. We want to take that money, people won’t necessarily love that, but we want to redistribute that money so that it goes into childcare, it goes back to the fortnightly payments, and we hope that people are better off because of that.

PRESENTER: Just on the childcare thing, you say it’s linked to childcare but you haven’t introduced any childcare reforms into the Parliament. So when are you going to do that if these are linked?

MINISTER PORTER: Well, they’re linked because this is the package that will pay for the childcare reforms. So –

PRESENTER: No, I understand that –

MINISTER PORTER: If we’ve, look – the answer to your question is as soon as we get a sense that we can get this through Parliament, and that the savings will come to pay for the childcare reforms, then of course the childcare reforms go in. And the childcare reforms have been largely supported across all the parties in Parliament. But we’ve got to pay for them and we don’t want to pay for it with borrowings which is just a way of cheating out the next generation of Australians who will have their own problems to deal with.

PRESENTER: So the issue with savings in the Budget has always been fairness, and with these cuts that had always been the issue with the six year threshold. Now it’s a thirteen year threshold, but I just want to clarify something, because it seems to me that – say, a single parent who’s earning close to $100,000 would still get a bit of this if their child is under thirteen but a single parent who is earning barely anything will lose it, or a huge chunk of the money they’re getting from the government, just because their child is fourteen. Wouldn’t it be better just to means test it and leave the age right up to the time they’re an adult?

MINISTER PORTER: Well there is means testing in a type because of the taper rate that applies. But what we’ve said is this, is that when your child turns thirteen the opportunity arises for you to move back into the workplace, whether or not you’re a couple family or a single parent family. And of course you have to remember also, this is with respect to one stream of Family Tax Benefits, that family that you’ve spoken about is still going to be receiving fairly generous fortnightly payments under the other stream. So they’re not left without anything, but they’re left in a situation where they can and should enter back into the workforce and relieve the taxpayer of some responsibility. And what we have found is that when single parents do re-enter the workforce, that is the key to growing their family prosperity and making a better life for them and for their kids.

PRESENTER: Alright Minister well we’ll watch keenly as your package traverses its way through Parliament. Thank you.