Transcript of doorstop interview, Darwin
THU 17 MAY 2012
Subject(s): Family payments; Schoolkids Bonus; Marrara Hockey Centre; INPEX Project; Bill Kelty; Craig Thomson; Carbon pricing; Michael Clarke
PM: I’m delighted to be at Wagaman Primary School, and thank you to, there she is, Michelle over there, thank you very much for having us here today, and to everybody who’s made us so welcome including some of the kids who, amazingly, said they’d like their NAPLAN to be a little bit harder. I haven’t had that reaction before.
And I’m joined today by Chris Burns, the Minister for Education, and also Trish Crossin, Senator for the Northern Territory.
Apart from talking to the kids about how they found NAPLAN today, I've been able to talk to some of the parents about all of the costs of getting the kids to school, and I’m pleased to be here in the Northern Territory, in Darwin, talking about how we’re going to work with families to help them make ends meet.
We want to make sure that there’s more money in family bank accounts for them to use on the costs of getting the kids to school. That’s why, by 30 June, we will be paying the Schoolkids Bonus, for the first time. $410 for primary school students, $820 for high school students, and then that’s going to become a permanent part of family budgets, with instalments each January and each July to help you with the costs of getting the kids to school at the start of the school year, and then the costs for the second half of the school year.
Families can also look forward to more money in their bank accounts through our new family payments. We will be increasing family payments by up to $600 for families with two or more children.
And from yesterday on, people will have seen some money start to come into their bank accounts. That’s an increase in family payments too, as part of our clean energy payments. Up to $110 per child for people who qualify for Family Tax Benefit A, and up to $69 per child for people who qualify for Family Tax Benefit B.
And on 1 July, people will see a tax cut if they earn less than $80,000 a year, and pensioners too will see a pension payment coming through in coming weeks as part of the clean energy payments.
All of this is about our understanding that so many families are finding it tough to make ends meet. And certainly, the cost of kids and getting them to school weighs heavily on families, and that’s why we want to be there with a helping hand with some more money into people’s bank accounts.
I’m also pleased to be here in the Territory for a few other purposes. I came here during the election campaign in 2010, and talked to some Territorians who were absolutely passionate about their hockey, and they talked to me about how, at Marrara where they train for hockey and play hockey, they needed a new surface. We partnered with the Northern Territory Government, $500,000 each, and hockey in the Northern Territory put in some money too, and it’s going to be a great delight to open that new playing surface today.
And of course you’ve got a proud track record in the Northern Territory of training people who end up in our Olympic team playing hockey.
And tomorrow I’ll be also very pleased to be able to turn the first sod on the INPEX Project. This is a huge project, part of our resources boom around the nation, a $34 billion project which will employ 3000 people in construction and then provide 700 ongoing jobs.
It’s going to last for 40 years, and make a real difference to the prosperity of the Northern Territory. So, we’ve got that new investment in the resources sector, we know overwhelmingly the Australian economy is strong, but we know there are some families doing it pretty tough and needing some help to make ends meet, and that’s why in the recent budget we’ve taken the opportunity to share the benefits of the mining boom around the country through new benefits for families.
I’m very happy to take questions, and I've joked that Trish will do all the hard ones, so any hard ones you've got they’re over to Trish. Or Paul you could do a few hard ones for me.
BURNS: I hope so.
JOURNALIST: Bill Kelty overnight was talking about Labor losing public trust and needing to start telling the truth. Is he right?
PM: We’ve got a lot of hard work to do, and we’ll be out there doing it, painting our Labor vision for the nation’s future. And it’s a vision of a prosperous, strong economy that seizes all of the opportunities that will flow through in our region of the world, in this century, when we will see spectacular growth, in China, in India, in Indonesia, right throughout our region.
And to be best positioned to seize all of that prosperity, we've got to be embracing the future – a clean energy future, a National Broadband Network future, a future where we’re spreading the benefits of the mining boom, and of course as a Labor Government we’re going to be using some of that prosperity to share benefits with people around the country including building new important ways of sharing benefits, like a National Disability Insurance Scheme, to do a better job for people with disabilities around the nation.
JOURNALIST: So those sorts of comments are helpful to Labor for you?
PM: Oh look, I’m always happy to hear people in the public debate and public space. I’m a great admirer of Bill Kelty, and what he achieved working alongside the Hawke and Keating Labor Governments, and we continue to work still as a Labor Government alongside working people and their trade unions, so that people are feeling the benefits of today’s resources boom.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just on Bill Kelty’s comments, he’s a legend of the Labor movement and he says that (inaudible) should stop blaming the media and the Opposition (inaudible). What have you got to comment on that?
PM: We’ve got a lot of hard work to do and we’re going to be out there doing it, and when I spoke to the ACTU Congress myself, I indicated we’d be engaging in 500 days of fight between now and the next election, taking our visions to the Australian people and continuing to provide the real benefits that Australian families need, including the Schoolkids Bonus and including increased family payments.
JOURNALIST: Should the NSW Labor Party be completely transparent about how much money it gave to Craig Thomson to pay his legal bills?
PM: Look this is a matter for the NSW branch of the Labor Party, and as I understand it a spokesperson for the branch has already dealt with it today.
JOURNALIST: There’s a suggestion that Craig Thomson may claim his phone was hacked. Is that a credible defence, do you think?
PM: Look, Mr Thomson’s going to make a statement to the Parliament next week, so I’m not going to try and guess what’s going to be in that statement, people will hear it next week.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Tony Abbott says that you’ve shrunk as the Prime Minister, what do you make of this?
PM: I’m used to Mr Abbott’s negativity and personal abuse, he engages in it because he doesn’t have any plans for the future of our country and I think this week, of all weeks, he’s pretty embarrassed to be talking about himself because he voted against money for families last week and he won’t guarantee even today that if he was elected Prime Minister, these family payment increases would continue, and at the same time his Shadow Treasurer’s talking about putting gup tax on Australian families.
JOURNALIST: The NT Government announced the impact of the carbon price on power and water prices in the Territory today. Now they’re facing an election in August and they won’t comment on what they think about the carbon price, possibly because they know it’s electoral poison. Have you condemned another Labor Government to electoral annihilation?
PM: Well thanks for asking me about that announcement today.
I've had an opportunity to have a look at it, and what it’s telling people in the NT is that the average weekly impact of the carbon price on their electricity bill will be $2.61. The average weekly increase all of our modelling has been done on was $3.30 a week, with the average assistance flowing to families being $10.10 a week.
So, $2.61, less than the $3.30 we were figuring on, less than the $3.30 a week, and the average assistance people will see is $10.10 a week. So, for the impact of carbon pricing on power bills here in the Northern Territory it is less than our Treasury modelling expected and the assistance money that will flow through is in excess of this $2.61. On average it’s $10.10 a week.
JOURNALIST: The Territory Labor Party has removed all mention of Labor from its electoral material, how does that make you feel?
PM: Well I don’t think it’s any secret that Paul Henderson’s a member of the Labor Party and that he leads a Labor team. I think people in the Territory know that, and Hendo and his Government have been doing a great job here in the Northern Territory and I've been very proud to work in partnership with them on some of the very major reforms that we’ve engaged in that make a big difference to the Northern Territory.
I mean we’re standing here in a Building the Education Revolution building, $1.9 million, the transformation of Territory schools that we’ve worked on, both in terms of new school capital and more money into schools, made a big difference for the Territory.
Our new money in resources into health, our more doctors, our more doctor-training here in the Northern Territory is making a difference for people around the Territory. Our Closing the Gap targets and our Stronger Futures package making a big difference for indigenous Australians here, and of course we've worked together on harnessing the benefits of the resources boom, including investing into skills to people can get those jobs, and there won’t be anywhere in the country that gets a bigger benefit out of the National Broadband Network than here in the NT.
BURNS: So Prime Minister, if I could just comment, I was out with a candidate this morning who on their material was proudly proclaiming that they’re a member of the Labor team, so, that was really a generalisation that isn’t so.
JOURNALIST: Just to take you back to the carbon pricing, are you saying that Territorians should be happy with it because they’re not going to be as badly affected as people elsewhere?
PM: My simple point is this.We have seen a hysterical fear campaign for well over 12 months now. Mr Abbott has said to Australians that the impact on their cost of living would be astronomical. He said to Australians that everyone would lose their jobs. He said to Australians that come 1 July, life as we know it would cease to exist. Sun wouldn’t come up, the birds wouldn’t fly, and on and on and on, this fear campaign has gone.
Now people have got some fact at their disposal, and they can see the increase from carbon pricing on their electricity bill is going to be $2.61, they can see that the average assistance for families, for households is $10.10.
Many families in yesterday and in coming days will see new money in their bank accounts. They’ll get the tax cut on 1 July, and they’ll be able to judge this for themselves.
JOURNALIST: Will you support the Greens’ call for an Integrity Commissioner for Federal politicians?
PM: Look, if a parliamentarian wants to put forward a piece of legislation for consideration then of course it will be properly considered.
JOURNALIST: Will you support it though?
PM: Look, we’ll have a proper process, that’s what we do, to look at pieces of legislation so that one will go through the proper process too. Thanks very much.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, do you have a message for Michael Clarke?
PM: Well I saw those very glamorous photos today, and apart from looking very glamorous they looked a very joyful couple, so to Michael and his new wife, I’d say they’ve obviously had an incredibly day and best wishes for what is going to be, I hope, a very long and very happy life together.