10 May 2015
Transcript - #2015092, 2015

Doorstop interview, Canberra

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, why is it that Scott Morrison can announce through the Sunday Telegraph a $3.5 billion figure on childcare charges and then after the event, you feel reluctant to even confirm it?

TREASURER:

Well, the Prime Minister is announcing with Scott Morrison the childcare changes today.

JOURNALIST:

He’s already announced them in the paper…

TREASURER:

Well, there’s an announcement today. You can all comment on each other, but there’s an announcement that is focused on jobs, that is focused on childcare that is flexible, affordable, accessible, it’s good for Australia.

JOURNALIST:

Does this add to the perception though that you’ve been disempowered as Treasurer?

TREASURER:

Guys, if you want to comment on each other’s commentary, please. Ask me about the Budget, but you know… [inaudible].

JOURNALIST:

What’s the size of the extra spend on childcare? What’s the size of the saving that you’re going to transfer from family tax to augment the childcare…

TREASURER:

It’s well over $3 billion, over the four years, over the four years…

JOURNALIST:

That’s the extra…

TREASURER:

Yes, we are increasing our spending on childcare because there are, according to the Productivity Commission, around 165,000 parents that would participate more in work if they were to be given more affordable, more accessible and more flexible childcare. Now I signed the commitment to the Productivity Commission to have this review. The Productivity Commission came back with a report, we’ve been carefully considering that report. We need to make the savings, there have been changes made to the recommendations of the Productivity Commission, after consultation with stakeholders. We’ve been careful and methodical about this and it’s been underway for more than 12-months.

JOURNALIST:

Just a follow-up sorry, why was it important last year that that money from welfare was to pay down debt and deficit, now you’re going to spend it?

TREASURER:

Well, because it’s about creating jobs. We’ve said repeatedly that what we want to do is redeploy our savings and redeploy government expenditure into areas of growth in the economy. To help to facilitate growth, to help to facilitate job creation. Now, that’s where we are at. It’s hugely important, hugely important, that Tuesday night’s Budget be a growth Budget, that it be a Budget that focuses on giving Australians the opportunity to have a go, to participate in work and this builds on what the Intergenerational Report said. The Intergenerational Report identified as we’ve previously identified, that if we can lift our female workforce participation rate to that of Canada, we’ll see the equivalent increase in the Australian economy of a new Newcastle every year. So importantly, this builds on that, it’s about workforce participation.

JOURNALIST:

How do you explain the massive shift in logic on paid parental leave over recent months? From being a signature policy to one that you’re now flagging should be not supported in any way for a very large proportion of workers who can access it through their employers?

TREASURER:

I don’t think you understand. People are double dipping. They have their own, private paid parental leave schemes and then they’re going and getting a taxpayer parental leave scheme as well. Now, that is patently unfair. What we’re saying is we can’t afford to pay for people to double dip and we are increasing our funding for childcare. So, it is about getting the balance right and I don’t think anyone would suggest that that is unfair, at all.

JOURNALIST:

What’s the saving to the Budget from stopping that double dipping, Treasurer?

TREASURER:

Nearly $1 billion over the next four years, it’s a huge amount of money. Look, I think most Australians would accept that it’s a fair response to the current times to prevent individual parents from being able to claim parental leave payments from both their employer and from other taxpayers. So, it is a fair response, it is an integrity measure.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible]

TREASURER:

Well it all goes into the Budget to help to pay for our priorities.

JOURNALIST:
Where’s the crossover between looking after newborns, tiny infants, and the childcare support which really doesn’t cut in until, in most cases, a later age for the child?

TREASURER:

Well, there are a range of different initiatives and you’ll see in the Budget.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, you just sounded a rather large [inaudible] of optimism about the future of the Australian economy against predictions of a recession. Doesn’t that sit a little oddly with the Government talking so much in recent times about problems?

TREASURER:

Well, you name me one credible economist who is stating in numbers that Australia is facing an economic downturn. Name me one. There are none. So please, do not take one line from one economist or opinion leader and pretend that that is gospel because the facts are Australia is on the threshold of its greatest ever era, but we have to earn that era, and we are earning that era. We’ve seen phenomenal challenges over the last 12-months, falling terms of trade, a dramatic fall in the iron ore price, but we’re coming through. Things are getting better, and they’re getting better for all Australians.