Doorstop - Logan 4/6/18

04 June 2018





SUBJECT/S:  Turnbull Government’s unfair child care package, Commonwealth Bank settlement, Barnaby Joyce, By-elections


DES HARDMAN, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR FORDE: Good morning, everyone. Thanks for coming along today. My name is Des Hardman, and I am Labor’s candidate for Forde in the next federal election. I’m here today at Goodstart Early Learning Centre in Shailer Park, in the electorate of Forde, with Amanda Rishworth, the Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Development and Jim Chalmers, who is our local Member for Rankin, right next to where we are located here in Forde today. We are here to talk to the people at Goodstart and the early educators and some parents today about the Coalition’s changes to early childhood education benefits and rebates for parents. Early childhood education is an essential service. With the changes, the ability for people to access these essential services is going to be made more difficult for parents to access through changes in the way they assess their activity and also cuts making it harder for people on low incomes to access early childhood education. There’s around 3000 families in Forde which will be worse off under these cuts from the Coalition. These changes are going to make it more difficult for kids in their early years, in an important age and important time in their lives, to access education. As I said, it’s going to be more difficult for these parents to go to work and to educate themselves so they can go out and get a better job. This is a really important issue. I am also a dad and I know how important it was for my children to access early childhood education, and I know at what cost it came to for me. So I can’t imagine how much more difficult this is going to make it for parents to access early childhood education in Forde. I spoke to one lady the other day that I’d like to give as an example: she has twins and she is a single mum. She came to me and said after the first of July, I am going to be $600 a week more out of pocket for childcare while I am trying to educate myself with a university degree. Just to have my twins in childcare in early childhood education for three days a week. That’s an incredible statistic that I can’t believe and it goes to show how bad it is going to be for some people. Thank you very much and I’ll hand over to Amanda.


AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: Thank you very much it’s wonderful to be here. Des is just an outstanding candidate and when I said I was going to come here he said you’ve got to come and see the great work being done at Goodstart. It is also great to be here with my Parliamentary colleague, Jim Chalmers, because these two representatives will have the hardest hit, when it comes to families, who will be worse off come the first of July. The first of July is coming around very quickly, which is when the Government’s new childcare changes come in. Indeed in the seat of Rankin close to 33 per cent of families will be worst off as a result of the government’s child care changes, and in the seat of Forde 25 per cent of families. Now these aren’t Labor’s figures these are the departments own figures which say families will be worse off. Now contrary to the Minister’s claims, these are not all wealthy families. Indeed the majority of families who will be worse off are low or middle income families. Today we heard the story of one family who has five children, where one child wants to access early childhood education here at Goodstart and as a result of the governments changes it is going to make that families life more difficult. Now I don’t know what the Minister thinks but looking after five children is not sitting on the couch doing nothing as he would like to put it. These are families that deserve support for early education. Now, in addition last week in Senate Estimates we found out that 43 per cent of families haven’t even registered yet to access the government’s changes. 43 per cent of families could be cut off come the first of July unless they register. Now the government have put out a slick advertising campaign but it’s actually been up to centres like this one working at the coalface with no extra resources who have had to work with families to support them to change over. It is places like this that deliver excellence early education and real opportunity not just for workforce participation but for high quality early education. We need to continue to support families to access this, not leave it up to families and indeed last week the Minister blamed families for not signing up. This is just not good enough; this Minister really needs to answer what will happen to those families who have not registered. Why are these families going to be left in the dark? And importantly what is he going to do for those families, those 33 per cent of families in Rankin and across the state of Queensland one in four families, who will be worse off as a result of these changes. I’ll hand over to Jim.


JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Thanks very much, Amanda. When families in my electorate wake up in four weeks’ time, 4298 of them will be worse off because of the Turnbull Government’s changes. They are part of 279,000 families worse off around the country because Malcolm Turnbull is so out of touch with the cost of living pressures that families, especially those on low incomes, face in this community and indeed right around the country. This is another attack from Malcolm Turnbull on the family budgets of people already doing it tough. People who are doing the right thing, going to work, raising their kids, doing what they can to ensure that the next generation has access to early childhood education at great places like here at Goodstart Early Learning centre in Shailer Park. Now this guy, Malcolm Turnbull is so out of touch with what’s going on in suburbs like this one that he wants to make it harder for families to make ends meet, not make it easier.


Families right around the country are crying out for cost of living relief and that’s why Labor has made such a priority to give bigger, fairer tax cuts to 10 million Australian working families. It’s why Amanda Rishworth, Des Hardman and others have been so alive to the damage these childcare changes will do for communities right around Australia.


The Turnbull Government has become a B-grade soap opera. For as long as Malcolm Turnbull as his colleagues are obsessed with the B-grade soap opera around Barnaby Joyce and Michaelia Cash and Pauline Hanson, families in Australia will not get a look in. For as long as Malcolm Turnbull’s Government is consumed by chaos and self-obsession and this B-grade soap opera that is consuming the government, the families of Australia will not get their cost of living pressures addressed by a Liberal Government. The only chance that the families of Australia have to see genuine cost-of-living relief is to see the end of this B-grade soap opera, which is the Turnbull Government, and elect a Labor Government, which genuinely cares about the cost of child care; about bigger, fairer tax cuts; about good quality health and education services for the families of this country.


I’d just like to touch on one more issue before I throw to you and that is on the settlement which has just been announced between the Commonwealth Bank and Austrac over the money laundering revelations; the issues that were uncovered by Austrac and has been going through a court proceeding for the last little while. This $700 million settlement is the biggest civil settlement in Australian history but it’s still only around one-sixth of the tax handout that Malcolm Turnbull intends to give to the Commonwealth Bank. Malcolm Turnbull’s tax handouts, $17 billion of which will go to the four big banks, will see the lion’s share go to the Commonwealth Bank - the bank at the centre of the extraordinary revelations that have led to this settlement. I think it says everything about Malcolm Turnbull’s priorities, when he sees the rorts and the rip-offs in our banks, he wants to hand them a $17 billion tax cut, of which the Commonwealth Bank will get the lion’s share. There is a very stark contrast between the major parties in the Parliament of Australia. Malcolm Turnbull wants to compensate the perpetrators of rorts and rip-offs and Labor wants to see the victims of the rorts and rip-offs compensated. Malcolm Turnbull is so out of touch he wants to give the biggest tax cut to the Commonwealth Bank, which today has had to settle for $700 million with Austrac after revelations of money laundering. The Commonwealth Bank settlement is the biggest ever, but still around one-sixth of what Malcolm Turnbull intends to hand out to the Commonwealth Bank as a part of his tax cuts for big business.

JOURNALIST: Is $700 million an adequate penalty though?

CHALMERS: It’s the biggest we’ve ever seen, and I think a reflection of the seriousness of what has gone on here. The fact that we’ve got a $700 million settlement with one bank over these sorts of very serious issues around money laundering, certainly indicates that there has been a lot of bad behaviour going on. It is up to the parties to determine the settlement based on all the information they have. The point that we would make is that Malcolm Turnbull is a merchant banker himself. He knows the kind of things that goes on behind closed doors in these banks. He has fought for two years to keep this kind of behaviour under wraps. Malcolm Turnbull has fiercely resisted the Australian people getting to the bottom of some of these issues with the Royal Commission. It says it all about his priorities. It says it all about the contrast that, while Labor cares deeply about the cost of childcare and the quality of our health and education, Malcolm Turnbull’s highest priority is to be an apologist for the big banks and to give them a $17 billion tax cut of which the lion’s share will go to the Commonwealth Bank at the centre of this extraordinary settlement today.

JOURNALIST: Are you saying that Malcolm Turnbull has specifically covered up the allegations that the bank has now been accused of and forced to pay a $700 million penalty for?

CHALMERS: Malcolm Turnbull’s record speaks for itself. For two years he resisted a Royal Commission into the behaviour of the big banks and what that tells us is that he did not want the Australian people to see the kind of behaviour that’s going on. He did not want the Australian people, especially the victims of these rorts and rip-offs, to have these issues aired publicly. That is not an opinion of the Labor Party; that is a fact. That for two years he resisted the Royal Commission. He is of that world; he knows what has been going on in the financial system. It is up to him to explain why he resisted the Royal Commission for so long.


JOURNALIST: How did you spend your Sunday night? Did you watch the Barnaby Joyce interview?


CHALMERS: No, I saw snippets of it, in the previewing and the subsequent coverage.


JOURNALIST: Didn’t have the popcorn out?

 I certainly didn’t, no.

 Any reaction from the Party, what is it like?


CHALMERS: That kind of show is not really my bag, and I think that the personal issues...

CAMERAMAN: Tsk, tsk, tsk.


CHALMERS: (Laughs) It doesn't make our friends from Channel 7 happy. I'm sure a lot of people watched it, but I wasn't one of them. I haven’t seen all of it. I’d make these points though: it’s not for me or for us to comment on the very personal aspects of what has gone on here. For all of us as parents of young kids, I think the priority should be that that beautiful little kid is healthy and happy and feeding and sleeping, and that the initial weeks of his life are as stress-free as possible. More broadly, I think you can see why, particularly the middle- and low-income families can’t get a look in, because the Turnbull Government is consumed by what is essentially a B-grade soap opera. And for as long as Malcolm Turnbull and his colleagues are obsessed with this kind of stuff, not just around Barnaby Joyce but around Michaelia Cash and Pauline Hanson, all of this self-obsession and internal chaos, I don’t think this country will be governed effectively and that’s really our main priority, to make sure that the low- to middle-income earners of this country get the representation that they need and deserve. They won’t get a look in for as long as the Government is distracted and diverted by things like what we saw in that program. 


JOURNALIST: Amanda, I do want to talk to you about childcare, you mentioned a mum of five, there are some exemptions for those that can’t make those activity hours, does that not apply to her?


RISHWORTH Everyone’s circumstances are different but what this activity test has done is that is has left, by the government’s own figures, 33 per cent, which is close to one in three families, worse off as a result of the governments changes. Some people will still be able to get some hours and some will get no hours what so ever. But what we do know from the government’s own figures as well is that the majority of those who will be worse off will be in the two lowest income brackets. These aren’t Labor’s claims, these are the Government’s own figures where they’ve estimated what will happen to those on activity tests. Now I know here at Goodstart, they are working very hard with families to try and help them achieve the activity test but we know from the government’s own figures that it won’t be achieved for everyone. Indeed as I said 1 in 3 in Rankin and 1 in 4 in Forde will be worse off, according to the Government’s own figures. The Minister’s reaction has been well they should get off the couch and do some work, he said that in a press conference. I think that doesn’t understand two things, one the complex nature of families and two, the importance of early education. He refuses to acknowledge that if we give children the best start to life that is the best investment we can make and he is not actually recognising that important fact.


JOURNALIST: They have until July to update MyGov, do you suspect there will be a large number that will miss out because they don’t update?


RISHWORTH: Well Senate Estimates last week revealed that the Government is way behind what they thought they would get in terms of registration of families. So yes, I am deeply concerned. Come the first of July, a lot of families will find themselves with large out of pocket costs. That’s just not good enough. The Government have sought to blame families for this, saying that it is all their responsibility and they should do it. Well it’s the government that changed the rules, it’s the government that ripped up the system and brought in a new system. Trying to shirk their responsibility for not properly informing families is just not good enough. Now I understand that they have started to put out SMS’s and letters but they should be working a lot harder and they should be working with centres that are at the coalface of this. I have had Centre’s tell me that they have been told by the Department of Education, to get a laptop and put a staff member at the front to register people. Now that shows a lack of responsibility that the Government is taking when it comes to enrolling families.

JOURNALIST: Jim maybe just an unrelated question, there was a Sky News/Reach TEL poll out this morning which showed that a majority of voters in the electorate of Longman were opposed to asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island being resettled in Australia. Did the results surprise you?

CHALMERS: I know there have been a couple of polls, or a couple of questions asked in Longman and Braddon. I think overall the lesson we take from those polls is that we have never said anything other than those seats will be challenging for Labor. We take no votes for granted; we take no seats for granted. Both Longman and Braddon were held by the Liberal Party before the last election, so we take them very seriously. We take every seat and every vote very, very seriously around the country. When it comes to the issues that have been in the polls, our position is determined by a lot of careful thought and consideration, not by opinion polls. We are aware of them as they bounce around on different issues, but at the end of the day we want to do what’s right for the country, whether that be with asylum seekers or right across the board. So while those polls will be of interest to a lot of people, they don’t necessarily change our view about how we go about managing a very important area of public policy.