SUBJECTS: Child care reform; paid parental leave; cost of living; Bill Shorten; energy security.
PRIME MINISTER: Well good morning. I’ll have to leave you in 13 minutes, but I’m here with Christian and Birmo and you’ve seen how important the child care reforms are for Australian families. Removing the $7,500 cap, so significant. You’ve heard from parents there how that is going to mean they’ll be able to retain more of what they earn, rather than having - the lady on my left was describing how after February at the moment, because of the cap, basically all of her after-tax income is going on child care.
This is going to provide greater incentive for work, for employment. It is also going to provide greater support for hard-working Australian families. That is our commitment.
These are very important reforms and you have seen how well received they are. That is why it is so important for the Parliament to support these reforms so that the sooner they are passed, the sooner they can come into operation and the sooner these families can benefit.
MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Thanks. Very quickly, I want to remind everybody, the reforms are the result of a very long process of consultation, of an extensive Productivity Commission inquiry, all designed to come up with a much better system for our child care framework.
Unfortunately, Labor have completely ignored that.
They went to the last election proposing no change other than a temporary increase in terms of the child care rebate threshold, a lift from $7,500 up.
The last time Labor did that, prices went up, it was all gobbled up in a sense by fee growth. Little benefit to families and huge extra cost to taxpayers.
We are proposing comprehensive reform here and yet Chris Bowen was out there this morning saying that Labor will oppose it. In opposing our reforms, what he is essentially saying, is they want to keep higher levels of child care payments in the future potentially to high-earning families but deprive those who most need it, of getting more support. Deprive those people who are already hitting a cap and working fewer hours, of being able to make greater choices about their workplace freedom.
Even on the paid parental leave front, he is saying they want to deprive those who get no paid parental leave from their employers of more support, whilst indeed, supporting those who might be - indeed, the millionaires, billionaires who he likes to dine with - receiving greater paid parental leave support in future as a result of the taxpayer.
It makes no sense for Bill Shorten to say more at that end and yet deprive people of what are progressive reforms that gives better-targeted supports for families with young children, infants, children in child care and early education.
MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: Very briefly it is very disappointing to hear Labor say that they intend to oppose these measures. If you oppose these measures you oppose benefiting one million Australians who want to see reforms to child care to make it more accessible and more affordable. If you oppose these measures you oppose 230,000 Australians who say they want to work for the first time, or work more but are prevented from doing so because these reforms are needed. If you oppose these measures you oppose 96,000 of the lowest income mothers in Australia being able to get an extra two weeks and an extra $1,300 and stay at home with their child after the birth of their child.
There once was a time that the Labor Party believed that the welfare system was about focusing your efforts on those with the lowest means and focusing your efforts to get those people as much work as you possibly can so they can improve the circumstances for themselves and for their families. That golden age of the Labor Party has gone and now they oppose improvement for Australian hard-working families.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister you had a wry smile when Simon mentioned dining with billionaires there, is that what sparked yesterday’s – your perceived hypocrisy of the Labor Party and especially Bill Shorten?
PRIME MINISTER: Well Shorten is a complete hypocrite. He wants to play the politics of envy but yet he's been a sycophant to the billionaires of Melbourne for years and years, everyone knows that. Everyone knows that. As I said yesterday, no union leader has tucked his knees under more billionaires' tables than Bill Shorten. Everyone knows that. Those criticisms rang true and the people who know him best are his own colleagues. They know he is a fake. He has no integrity, no consistency. He doesn't have a fair dinkum bone in him.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, if Bill Shorten backed off the Mr Harbourside Mansion and the personal attack on your wealth that has been going on for a long time, would you call a truce on the personal attack or is it on for young and old?
PRIME MINISTER: Did he ask you to say that?
JOURNALIST: No. No, Prime Minister he didn't.
PRIME MINISTER: Let me tell you something, let me tell you something, politics is about many issues. It is about policies, it is about character, it is about strength of character. I back myself. I am my own man. I can't be bought by anyone. I don't suck up to billionaires. I look them in the eye and when I need to I take them on.
Bill Shorten has sold his members out again and again and they know that. It is one of the oldest unions in Australia, perhaps the oldest, the Australian Workers Union - he sold their members out. That is a fact. That is not rhetoric. That is not a political line. That is fact. It is in the Royal Commission. He sold them out then, he is selling them out now and he will sell them out again because that is his character.
Look at him on company tax he goes, ‘Oh no you can’t cut company, that is terrible, Malcolm is helping his rich mates’. The lines I repeated in the House yesterday. Bill Shorten has made the case for reducing company tax as eloquently as anyone. He will say anything to suit his purpose. Let's be quite frank. Bill Shorten does not have the character to be Prime Minister of Australia. He does not have the integrity to be Leader of the Opposition, to be leader of the Labor Party.
JOURNALIST: Yesterday you attacked social climbing in that speech. The Liberal Party under John Howard used to represent aspirational voters who wanted something better out of life. Have you now moved away from that?
PRIME MINISTER: I don't think sucking up to billionaires saying one thing in the well upholstered living rooms of Melbourne to powerful captains of industry and another thing on the hustings, I don't think that is what aspirational Australia is about. As we back Australians getting ahead, we back Australians. We believe our job in the Liberal Party, and the National Party’s, is to help Australians do their best and enable them to do their best.
Bill Shorten is a hypocrite. His colleagues know he is a hypocrite. Their faces were a study yesterday in the House. They knew that everything I said about him was true and so do you and so do the Australian people.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, on the blackout briefly that we saw last night in South Australia. The South Australian Government blamed the national market operator. They didn’t go to Pelican Point - what is your response?
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. The South Australian Labor government has created a situation where that state, crying out for more investment and more industry, has the most expensive and least reliable electricity in Australia. That is a fact.
Of course, they want to blame it on everybody else.
Well, I suppose they could blame it on the wind because it wasn't blowing yesterday, but, you know something, the history is in South Australia which does have a history of heatwaves is when they have the biggest heatwave there is no wind and when there is no wind, all of their windmills are not generating electricity. They haven't planned for that.
This is not an issue about the virtues of fossil fuel, one type or another, or wind energy or renewable energy, this is an issue about competence. We stand for efficient, objective management of energy. The Labor Party, driven by ideology, is putting Australian households and businesses at risk.
And you see in the West Australian election, the West Australian Labor Party is now calling for a 50 per cent renewables target.
Labor is drunk on left ideology on energy and they are putting Australians' livelihoods, their businesses and their households at risk and on that note I must go to the House.