Doorstop interview, Canberra
Delivering more affordable, flexible and accessible child care for Australian families; Prime Minister’s speech to the House of Representatives; South Australia’s electricity supply

Simon Birmingham:     This morning the Labor Party has confirmed that it intends to vote against the Turnbull Government’s child care reforms, paid parental leave reforms. Reforms that will benefit some of the hardest working Australian families. This is a remarkable decision by a Labor Party that claims to want to see the budget fixed, that claims to want to see better support for the lowest earning, hardest working Australians. And yet it is going to vote against proposals, that in the case of paid parental leave, would provide more support to 100,000 Australian families, who don’t get any employer paid parental leave, or get little employer paid parental leave. They’re going to vote against child care changes that will benefit around one million Australian families and provide the greatest benefits to the hardest working, lowest earning Australian families. 

Because of Labor’s action, a single parent earning around $50,000 will be about $2500 a year worse off. A couple earning about $80,000, with two children in child care, will be about $3000 a year worse off. This is what the Labor Party is voting for: to make Australian families with young children, newborns, worse off. The Turnbull Government has taken some difficult decisions. At a time when the budget’s deep in deficit, grappling with Labor’s debt, it’s tough to decide how you prioritise funding. But we’ve made those difficult decisions to make sure that we can invest in a more effective child care model that gives more support to those who need it most; that we invest in a more effective paid parental leave model that gives more support to those who need it most. And yes, still returning a dividend to the budget, through making other difficult decisions. 

Labor ought to reconsider their decision. Because these are actually truly progressive reforms; progressive reforms that shift funding to those earning the least, to those getting the least – in terms of paid parental leave – and making sure that those families get the greatest level of support in the future. Once again it’s a demonstration that Bill Shorten and the Labor Party are all talk but no follow through when it comes to supporting low income Australian families, because they’re proposing to vote to make many of those families with young children worse off in the future. 

Question:                                 So therefore, where are negotiations up to with the crossbench?

Simon Birmingham:     We’ll continue negotiations with the crossbench, but I hope that the Labor Party reconsiders, that they take a look and realise in this omnibus savings bill, there are measures that they should support. There are measures that –regardless of what they think about some of the other components – are inherently fair. They are the biggest reforms that are part of this omnibus bill, and they ought to be coming on board to support them. 

Question:                                 How much was Malcolm Turnbull’s performance in Question Time yesterday about rallying up the backbench? 

Simon Birmingham:     Well, it was a long time, long time for Bill Shorten to be called out for what he is, and that is a fraud who tries to walk both sides of the street continuously. He talks about repairing the budget, but votes against budget repair. He talks about doing more for low income families, but will leave low income family with newborns or children in child care worse off as a result of the way Labor is behaving and acting. Frankly, every time you see Bill Shorten saying something, you can have no certainty about where it will go. 

He talks about concern for household power prices, but proposes a 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target that would drive household power prices up dramatically. It would drive business electricity costs up dramatically, that would hurt job creation and investment, that would only of course make worse the situation that saw South Australia last night face yet another blackout. 

As a South Australian Senator, I am embarrassed that my state is now a joke. You turn in to tune in to morning radio programs, and as they’re giving the weather forecast and saying it’s another hot day in South Australia, oh we hope the lights stay on. Well again, that’s not what I want from my state. That doesn’t help attract investment or jobs to South Australia. Yesterday on a predictably hot summer day in Adelaide, we saw wind generation drop below five per cent, to around 2.5 per cent of the state’s generation supply. Essentially South Australia ran out of electricity generation yesterday. And that’s just not a sustainable position. Less than five per cent wind generation in a state with a renewable energy target pushing for 40 or 50 per cent of renewables. Clearly that’s not a sustainable energy mix. Obviously it’s putting real pressure on the grid. The state ran out of generation yet again. The lights went out yet again. These are real problems and they would only be made worse by Bill Shorten, who proposes to do the same thing right across the nation. Thank you.