Vulnerable Australians are more than just a line on the balance sheet - Doorstop, Canberra




MONDAY, 11 MAY 2015

SUBJECT/S: Budget; The invisible Treasurer; Childcare

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning everyone. I'm concerned, as we go into this Budget, that the Government hasn't learned the lessons of last year. It hasn't begun to think of vulnerable Australians as anything more than just a line on the balance sheet. Last year, the Budget was hurting young jobless people and pensioners. This year, if the pre-Budget speculation is anything to go by, we're looking at a Budget that's going to make life harder for families and maybe even for pregnant mums. It's not much of a Mother's Day present for women around Australia to discover that Tony Abbott has moved from wanting to deliver a gold-plated parental leave scheme, to saying that he'll leave things alone, to now saying he's going to make parental leave worse. Meanwhile, Joe Hockey is a bit like the star of Weekend At Bernie's - just being propped up by Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison, unable to go out there and sell his Budget. Can anyone really imagine that Paul Keating, Peter Costello or Wayne Swan would have been sidelined in the way that Joe Hockey has throughout this Budget process? Australians gain confidence from a Treasurer who clearly understands the economy and is able to convey that Budget message. But at the moment, many of them are shaking their heads. Joe Hockey says that he is going to be handing down a Budget tomorrow night that's Tony Abbott's Budget, not his. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: With the encouragement back to work in the families package, isn't that something that Labor should be encouraging? It makes sense doesn't it – if you're working, you get more childcare entitlements and if you're not, you don't?

LEIGH: We'll look carefully at the childcare package once we see the details of it from the Government. But again, they seem to be thinking that they can play these ransom games with the Parliament. We saw this with the universities package, where the Government was saying ‘vote for our package or Australian research gets it’. Now we're seeing it again with this childcare package which is supposed to be funded out of savings that the Senate has very clearly said it isn't going to pass. So the Government needs to start working constructively with the Senate rather than attempting to hold it to ransom.

JOURNALIST: When will Labor come up with its alternative childcare package then?

LEIGH: Labor has come up with a range of detailed policies. We're well ahead of the policy curve in this electoral cycle with things like the superannuation package, the multinational tax package, the family violence package and a range of other policy proposals. We will focus on the needs of families, particularly the vulnerable. And we'll be inspired by the same values that led us, in the last term of government, to increase the Childcare Rebate from 30 to 50 per cent.

No more questions? Thanks everyone.



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