6 February 2015
Transcript - #2015016, 2015

Doorstop interview, Padstow

TREASURER:

I am here with David Coleman. He is an outstanding new Member. He has been working incredibly hard here and is very engaged with his community [inaudible]. I thank all the team at this childcare centre for hosting us and giving me the opportunity to read a little story to some potential new voters in a few years’ time.

You know, the Federal Government spends over $6 billion a year on childcare.  There are more than 1.1 million children in Australia that attend childcare services. Australia does this in order to give, particularly, mums the opportunity to continue with their careers, to get back into work, and at the same time, be sure that their children are very safely cared for, but also educated along the way. Childcare is hugely important for Australia's ability to increase and improve its workforce participation. 

With a population that is getting older, which we all celebrate, we obviously need more women to come into the workforce, but also to be in an electorate such as David's, you have to have more than one income in order to pay the mortgage. It is a fact that what has changed most dramatically over the last two decades in Australia is that you can really no longer afford to live in a major city in Australia and pay a mortgage with just one income. You need two incomes. 

So, in order to help families, the Federal Government under Tony Abbott, is absolutely focused on a new families’ package that we will discuss with the electorate and importantly, build into our Budget for Australia's future. If we can increase our female workforce participation to the same level as that of Canada, the Australian economy would be $25 billion a year larger.

So, it’s actually good for the economy to provide more flexible and more affordable childcare. Two-thirds of the cost of childcare are covered by government. Around one-third by families, but the families have been hit very hard by rising childcare costs, so we are very focused on that. Of  course, everything we've been doing over the last 12 months has been focused on reducing the costs for families, getting rid of the Carbon Tax, delivering the abolition of the Carbon Tax, but keeping tax cuts, ensuring that there is room for the Reserve Bank not to have to worry about inflation as a result of that. Also, with the benefit of falling petrol prices, you are starting to see the capacity of families to cope with some of the costs of rising –increasing costs of childcare and various other things being met, but it's getting harder and harder and it will in the future unless the Government takes action. 

So, I am absolutely confident that our families’ package will address the concerns of families, and particularly, will facilitate greater workforce participation by women over the years ahead. Now, over to you for questions. 

REPORTER:

Treasurer, can you give us any indication as to what the package is going to be in this regard because there is comment from the [inaudible] 

TREASURER:

We are engaging in a further round of consultation. On the one hand, everyone wants immediate answers, and on the other hand, they want consultation. So, we have a Productivity Commission Report. Scott Morrison – as the Minister who shares responsibility in this area – is engaging in a round of consultation. All members, actually, are engaging in consultations with key stakeholders. We will have more to say over the weeks and months ahead, but it is important that whatever we do responds to the demand of families to have more flexible and more affordable childcare and family care. One of the challenges is that only a small percentage of childcare is provided outside of standard working hours. Now, for a lot of families, you don't work standard working hours. So, we need to look at a more flexible regime. 

REPORTER:

Treasurer, are you aware of any MPs who are planning to move a spill motion?

TREASURER:

No.

REPORTER:

Will there be a spill motion?

TREASURER:

No – as far as I'm concerned – no.  

REPORTER:

Will Tony Abbott still be PM next week?

TREASURER:

Absolutely. 

REPORTER:

Does he have the numbers?

TREASURER:

I'm not getting into speculation about numbers. The only numbers I'm worried about are the Budget numbers, and every single day the Australian Government is spending $100 million more than it collects in revenue and the people that are in the way of us actually addressing that structural challenge are the Labor Party, the Greens, the Independents and the Senate. It is clearly unsustainable for Australia to have a Government that continues to spend $100 million more than it collects every day. Even as I stand, we are spending $40 million today just on the interest on the debt, and the debt is building and building every single day because in order to make up that shortfall of $100 million a day, we have to borrow more money, and that's just for our everyday costs of living as a government. So, everyone knows from a childcare centre operator and owner, right through to someone running a family budget, it is unsustainable to continue on a path where you spend more than you collect every single day.

REPORTER:

On tax, are you considering a two-tiered system?

TREASURER:

Well, quite obviously, in the wake of decisions made in recent weeks, we need to ensure that whatever we spend is fully paid for. It is also the case – I've given a commitment to big business, that they're not going to pay any more tax than they are paying today. But, we'll have more to say about the taxation arrangements in the next few weeks, and that will properly address the levy that you are obviously inquiring about.

REPORTER:

Just to clarify that Treasurer: so the story – the splash in The Australian today; is everything in that correct or [inaudible]

TREASURER:

No, the fact is that, as we said at the last election, we were going to have a levy to – we were going to reduce tax to 28.5 per cent for all companies and then have a levy on the largest businesses to help to pay for Paid Parental Leave. That was a double-tax rate system. There were two tax levels; obviously it was flowing through to business, but business was not going to pay any more tax overall and that remains our commitment. 

REPORTER:

So, would small and big business pay the same level of corporate tax?

TREASURER:

I’m sorry, I didn’t – 

REPORTER:

Would small and big business pay the same level of corporate tax?

TREASURER:

[Inaudible] wait and see, just wait and see. One step at a time. This is why we engage in consultations. I know you are all hungry for information and then when you don't get what you want you say, ‘well, you know…’ – anyway, I will leave the commentary to you. 

REPORTER:

[Inaudible]

TREASURER:

Okay any others? 

REPORTER:

Mr Coleman, now you mix with…

TREASURER:

He is a great man…

REPORTER:

You mix with backbenchers; do you know anyone who is planning on moving a spill motion? 

DAVID COLEMAN:

Look, I strongly support the Prime Minister and I don't really want to contribute to the speculation. I think speculation is counterproductive. It is a good Government with a lot of very solid achievements and we need to continue on the path that the Prime Minister and Treasurer have outlined. 

REPORTER:

Treasurer, just on the childcare, one more thing: Is more consultation really needed for the families’ package? I mean, isn’t it going to be pushing it back further [inaudible]?

TREASURER:

No, we always said we would look at it in a Budget context. We are looking at childcare and the families’ package in a Budget context, but I would just say this to you: it is impossible, impossible, to get the Budget back to surplus without making difficult decisions. It is impossible. Even if you assume that economic growth is going to improve and continue for years ahead, even if you assume that things will get better, the Budget does not get back to surplus without taking structural measures to reduce expenditure, because fundamentally, fundamentally, Labor locked in spending that was unsustainable into the future, even if we had strong economic growth – even if we broke all the records for the longest continuous period of economic growth in modern world history, they were never getting back to surplus. The structural changes that we announced in the last Budget and before that are the only things that are going to get the Budget back to surplus, and then you can start to live within your means as a government, and then – just then, maybe then – you can start to pay down the legacy of debt. Okay, thanks very much. Thanks a lot.