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Transcript - 24037

Doorstop Interview, Sydney

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 07/12/2014

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 24037

Subject(s): Paid parental leave.

Location: Five Dock, Sydney

PRIME MINISTER:

 

It’s terrific to be here in Five Dock on a beautiful Sydney Sunday morning with Margie and Craig Laundy, the local member, and it was great to have the chance to sit down with some typical Australian families who are doing their best to juggle work and family life and child care. These are the sorts of struggles which millions of Australian families live with on a daily basis and it’s important that government responds to them in their real life; responds to them and the daily circumstances that they face.

 

Now, as all of you know, I am very committed to a proper paid parental leave scheme - a paid parental leave scheme that pays women their real wage. It’s very important that we do have a proper paid parental leave scheme based on a woman’s real wage, but it’s also very important that we do the right thing by the mothers of Australia, particularly the mothers who are trying to be economic participants as well as social participants. That’s why in the months ahead over the summer my Ministers and I will be looking at the Productivity Commission report on childcare and we will be better targeting our parental leave scheme so that we can not only deliver a parental leave scheme which really helps families, but we can deliver more available and more affordable childcare as well.

 

So, I see this as a holistic families’ package that we will be presenting in the new year. I really do think it will be a holistic families’ package. We will still have parental leave based on a woman’s real wage, it will still include super, it will still be funded by the 3000 largest companies in Australia, it will still particularly advantage small business that will for the first time have access to a universal parental leave scheme, but it will also support childcare too.

 

It’s great when women make the choice to have children. It’s great that their choices are empowered and I want women to have a real choice to have children and to stay in the workforce and that’s what the Coalition is on about today.

 

QUESTION:

 

PM, with this revised PPL have you decided on a new threshold?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

I’m not going to get into the specifics today because my Ministers and I will be working on this over the summer break so that we do have something in the first half of the year to bring forward. Obviously, I’ve spent a lot of time listening – I listen to my colleagues, I listen to the community – and I think there is great support for a better paid parental leave scheme. I think that people really do want Australia to move into the modern era when it comes to a paid parental leave scheme that’s based on people’s wage rather than on welfare, but we also want more available and more affordable childcare and that’s why better targeting the parental leave scheme will enable us to invest more in childcare and make it more available and more affordable.

 

QUESTION:

 

Is this new proposal, I guess, a concession that the original proposal was too generous?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

The original proposal was brought forward at a time when the Labor Party was promising us that we were going to be back in surplus. The Labor Party was promising us that we were going to be back in a strong surplus by now. Plainly, we’re not back in a strong surplus; plainly, there is a big task of budget repair that is still ahead of us, even though we’ve made a good start. Now, the beauty of both parental leave and childcare is that these aren’t just family policies, they’re economic policies. These aren’t just good for families and good for women, they’re good for our economy, because if we can get more people in the prime of life working for a wage, we will boost our economy and that will be good for everyone.

 

QUESTION:

 

Is this a broken promise?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Obviously, what we will do over the summer will involve some changes to the policy that we took to the election but sensible governments respond to the circumstances in which they find themselves. Sensible governments look at what’s happening in the community, they look at what’s happening in the economy and they respond and that’s what this government will do.

 

QUESTION:

 

Just in clarification, is this going to be the new proposal that will be put to Parliament?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Yes, that’s correct. What we’ll be doing is working on a restructured and better targeted parental leave scheme; we’ll be working on putting more money in better ways into childcare. That’s what we’ll be working on over the summer and that will be going to Parliament in the new year.

 

QUESTION:

 

PM, will you be looking at extending rebates when it comes to the childcare sector? Will nannies and grandparents be able to access these rebates?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

I’m very keen on looking at in-home care but again, I’m not going to get into the details today. What I’m indicating is that we are looking very carefully at the Productivity Commission report. It’s a once in a generation study of childcare, it’s a very, very detailed and complex report and we want to give it a long hard look. But we will restructure the parental leave policy that we took to the election, we will better target it so that there is more money to invest in childcare.

 

QUESTION:

 

Prime Minister, why are you announcing this without any details, especially when the Murray Report is out today? There’s a lot on.

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

There is a lot on but this is a very busy Government. We are a busy Government and every day we are focused on doing the right thing by the people of Australia. We inherited a mess, we’re not letting the grass grow under our feet, we are getting on with doing the right thing by the people of Australia and we’re more than capable of talking about two things at one time.

 

QUESTION:

 

With no detail it seems more like just an announceable kind of Kevin Rudd thing?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

I think the families of Australia, they want a better parental leave scheme and they also want better childcare and that’s what they’re going to get from this Government.

 

QUESTION:

 

Do you think you’ll have trouble getting support for this proposal with the senators? Will you be working in conjunction with them to get this through?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Yes, that’s what we will be doing and as I said earlier, I’ve held out an olive branch to The Greens who have long supported a proper paid parental leave scheme. I have held out an olive branch to them. I’ve held out an olive branch to the Labor Party because the Labor Party say that they support good arrangements for women in the workforce. So, I’m ready to work with the Parliament to make this a reality and my message to everyone who supports a paid parental leave scheme is this is our time to get it right. This is our time to do to the right thing by the families of Australia and to do it in a way which is fair, which is reasonable and which will particularly help small business.

 

QUESTION:

 

From that, can we suggest that it will be low to middle income families that will benefit and it won’t be targeted towards women at the upper end of the income scale?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Well, Michael, you’re doing a manful job here trying to get me to go into details and speculate about details. It will be a better targeted scheme. The savings that we make in parental leave will be invested in childcare because they’re both important. They are both very important to the families of Australia and I want to take a holistic approach to the families of Australia. Sitting down earlier this morning here with Craig and his constituents, plainly these young mums are interested in a proper paid parental leave scheme but once you’ve had a child, if you want to stay in the workforce you need childcare as well. That’s why we will be on about both in the new year.

 

QUESTION:

 

What do your colleagues think about this? Are they happy?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

My colleagues want to do the right thing by the people of Australia and I think that my colleagues understand that we’ve got two challenges here – we’ve really got three challenges. The two challenges in respect of families are a proper paid parental leave scheme and a better childcare scheme and then we’ve got to do it in ways which are economically responsible and that’s been the hallmark of this Government. We want to do everything in ways which are economically responsible because, in the end, it is a strong economy that will sustain all of the services and all of the benefits that people, like Australians, have a right to expect.

 

Thanks so much.

 

[ends]

Transcript - 24037