Interview on Channel 9 Weekend Today with Jayne Azzopardi
Topics: New child care package; Citizenship of Parliamentarians

Jayne Azzopardi: Ask any working parent and they will tell you there is a child care crisis in this country. But this morning the Federal Government is beginning its sales pitch, promising relief is on the way with increased subsidies for low and middle income families.

The Minister for Education, Simon Birmingham, joins us now live from Adelaide.

Good morning Simon.

Simon Birmingham: Good morning Jayne.

Jayne Azzopardi: Tell us, who will benefit from these changes and how will the new subsidies work?

Simon Birmingham: Well, the hardest working lower income Australian families will get the biggest benefit from these changes, Jane. What we are doing is increasing the rate of child care subsidy, abolishing the various different payments to put it all into one new child care subsidy arrangement, we’re getting rid of the $7500 cap on the child care rebate, meaning that families earning less than $185,000 a year will no longer face any cap, and for those earning more than that it will be raised to some $10,000. So, significant help that will see many families some thousands of dollars a year better off.

Jayne Azzopardi: There would be families though who miss out on having that, the increase. What do you say to them?

Simon Birmingham: The only families who could miss out on getting support are either families on very high incomes or people who aren’t meeting the activity test of working, studying or volunteering. So as long as you are a family who is in the workforce and earning a low or middle income you are going to see extra support from this, and I would really encourage people to go and take a look at the child care estimator we have put online, so that it is transparent for everyone to see. education.gov.au/childcare is the place to go to get all of the information.

Jayne Azzopardi: Well let’s hope that brings some relief to all of the families out there. Minister, there is another issue that has been dogging the Government. Another Government MP had to resign yesterday over citizenship. It’s quite a mess, isn’t it?

Simon Birmingham: Well I don’t think anybody would wish this citizenship issue to have happened. We are getting on with the job of governing, that’s why I’m here talking about child care. We continue to have the confidence in the House of Representatives. So, we will keep doing as the Australian people elected us to do, which is focus on things like their cost of living pressures and their child care bills. Continuing with job creation, which is at record levels, some 370,000 jobs created just in the last 12 months. They’re the things that I know Australians want Malcolm Turnbull and all of us in the Government to focus on and that’s what we’ll do.

Jayne Azzopardi: There are though going to be at least two by-elections now, possibly more. Don’t voters have a right to feel a bit angry that they have to pay for these by-elections because politicians couldn’t get their paperwork right?

Simon Birmingham: I understand why people are frustrated at this distraction and indeed at costs of by-elections. As I say, we would all wish this hadn’t happened. We’re dealing with a very strict ruling in the High Court and a strict interpretation the High Court has put on the constitution, and now, yes, there may need to be more by-elections. Certainly Bill Shorten needs to look at some of his Members of Parliament where there are senior counsel, Queen’s Counsel, from the last High Court challenge who say that those Labor MPs are probably ineligible, and we in the Liberal Party are seeking to deal with this in a forthright and direct way. We’ll be putting forward proposals to the Parliament for full disclosure from every MP and Senator and Bill Shorten ought to support that process, and where his MPs have doubt he ought to ensure that they are referred to the High Court too.

Jayne Azzopardi: Well let’s hope that the two major parties can come to an agreement on that. Senator Birmingham, thank you for joining us this morning.

Simon Birmingham: Thank you Jayne.