6 March 2015
Transcript - #2015047, 2015

Doorstop interview, Bald Hills, Queensland

LUKE HOWARTH MP:

[Inaudible] Especially today after releasing the Intergenerational Report 2015 in Canberra yesterday and certainly it’s what Joe’s been speaking about and what the Intergenerational Report [inaudible]. As Joe just said, the children we’ve been talking to this morning and saying hi to this morning, in 40 years’ time will be younger than Joe [inaudible] It’s wonderful to be here this morning in the Petrie electorate and yeah, thanks for coming up, mate.

TREASURER:

Thanks Luke. Well, first of all, thank you to [inaudible] and all the team at Kids Capers. If you want a reminder of why you go into public life, you just have to go into a childcare centre and look at the future of Australia. Yesterday, we laid down a report about Australia’s 40 year future. The children around here will be younger than I am today in 40 years and it’s our duty to make sure that their quality of life is even better than what we have today. So, that’s why we lay down an Intergenerational Report. You know, Queensland has a great story to tell because its female workforce participation rates are significantly higher than the rest of Australia. So, there’s many lessons to be learned about how you can have a flexible, affordable childcare in Queensland but also how you can have a more engaging employer network, not only for women but also for older Australians. We desperately need to have a conversation about the future of Australia and I call on the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Shorten, and the leaders of the Greens and the Palmer United Party and others to join us in developing policies that are going to deliver a sustainable quality of life for the children of Australia and particularly those right here in this childcare centre. We cannot take the future for granted and we need to lift female workforce participation, we need to give more women the right to choose to get to work, we need to give older Australians the right to choose to continue in work and we need to redevelop policies that are going to spur on greater workforce participation by a whole lot of groups that at the moment feel quite alienated from the workplace.

REPORTER:

On encouraging older people to stay in work – continuing working, do [inaudible] schemes and other rules and regulations federally and state need to change so that [inaudible]

TREASURER

This is what we want to hear about. If various [inaudible] schemes or various laws are impeding increased participation by older Australians, or by women in work, then we need to hear about it and we need to start changing those laws because ultimately we’re going to strengthen the economy, create more jobs and build greater prosperity. We need to increase the workforce participation of older Australians in particular, but also of women returning to work after having children.

REPORTER:

How specifically do you do that for women, though?

TREASURER:

In particular, we are currently working through a major new childcare package. Minister Morison is in fact working it through on the back of a Productivity Commission review into childcare. Importantly, we are determined to do what we have to do to lift participation rates. Now, if we can lift Australia’s workforce participation rates to the same level as Canada, our economy would be between $25-40 billion a year larger. So, that’s why we need to do everything we can to be as flexible and accommodating of the needs of a diverse workforce as possible.

REPORTER:

Are there other ways to do that other than childcare? Or are you hanging your hat completely on the childcare policy?

TREASURER:

No, no, childcare is part of the equation. Employer attitudes and flexibility in terms of part-time work are also part of it. Look, employers are, over time, going to run out of workers if they don’t start engaging in a more flexible workplace discussion and it’s simply because people of a traditional working age in Australia  [inaudible] falling.

REPORTER:

You mentioned Canada and yesterday you talked about the $5 childcare there. Can we expect more assistance [inaudible]

TREASURER:

I don’t know if you can expect $5 a day childcare in Australia but the Government already pays for three quarters of the daily cost of childcare. We need to know that whatever changes we make are going to help to increase the level of female workforce participation. So, affordable and accessible and flexible childcare in many different forms is going to be important. You know, one of the great stories about modern Australia is that the number of women, in particular, who are reaching HSC level and doing their HSC has more than doubled in the last 30-40 years. Now, the number of women going into university is actually higher than men but there’s a dropout zone and what we’ve got to do is give people the choice to come back. It’s very hard to live in a capital city anywhere in Australia and pay a mortgage with one household income. So, we’ve got to look at ways to improve the flexibility of the general work environment.

REPORTER:

What do you do with the situation as it is now where there’s already women now who want to go to work but can only [inaudible]

TREASURER:

That is exactly what Minister Morrison’s going through at the moment – accessible, affordable, and flexible childcare.

REPORTER:

Do we need to have an infrastructure program [inaudible]

TREASURER:

We already have an infrastructure program, more generally. I really hope the Queensland Government comes to the plate in relation to infrastructure. It is vitally important – I know that they are now reconsidering their policy in relation to asset sales. I welcome that because ultimately that means they’re going to have enough money to build the infrastructure that is not only wanted by Queenslanders but is needed by Queenslanders. I mean, if the Queensland Government walks away from the road building programs, from the transport programs, from the essential infrastructure that was promised by the previous Government – if they walk away from that, it’s going to cost Queenslanders jobs and what we need is more jobs in Queensland and we need greater prosperity and we need more infrastructure here in Queensland.

REPORTER:

Do you think if you’d have released – or if the results of yesterday’s Intergenerational Report had of come before the last Budget, you would have had an easier job selling it?

TREASURER:

Look, last year’s Budget, we tried to fix 40 years of problems in one year – clearly we bit off more than we can chew, but the task is still there. The job is still there. The status quo is not going to work for Australia’s future. We need to be dynamic; we need to be flexible and that’s all the more reason why we need to work in partnership with the Labor Party and the Greens and the independents. Surely after yesterday they know the status quo is unacceptable and it’s not good them saying they’ll deliver a plan in a year or two – it’s too late. If we are going to prepare for the future, we need to start now because the sooner we move on preparing for the future, the sooner we can be sure that the future’s going to be better.

REPORTER:

One of the common complaints just quickly on childcare is that subsidies are [inaudible]

TREASURER:

I can’t speculate but there’s a lot of [inaudible]

REPORTER:

One for Canberra: has the Prime Minister or his Chief of Staff directed you not to appoint any director on a government board who is appointed under the Labor Government.

TREASURER:

No, that story is just dead wrong.

REPORTER:

So, Alan Kohler said that the head of the CSIRO confirmed it at the lunch that he was speaking at yesterday…

TREASURER:

I don’t know what gossip’s going on but it has never been suggested that someone appointed by the previous Government should automatically be reappointed by the Government.

REPORTER:

So, there’s no such edict or [inaudible]

TREASURER:

No, no. I sit in Cabinet and I’m telling you there is no such edict or policy.

REPORTER:

It would be unfair, wouldn’t it?

TREASURER:

And there have been numerous people who were appointed by the previous Government that have been re-appointed by this Government. So, this is more Canberra gossip that at the end of the day, I’m saying to you is not true.