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Thursday, 22 October 2015
Page: 12217

Family Payments

Ms MACKLIN (Jagajaga) (14:07): My question is to the Minister for Social Services. Yesterday the minister was asked whether a grandparent carer raising a 15-year-old child will be $2½ thousand a year worse off. The minister answered, 'Er, well, that depends on their capacity to access child care and re-enter the workforce.' Is the minister seriously suggesting that a grandparent carer should go back to work and put a 15-year-old child in child care?

Mr PORTER (PearceMinister for Social Services) (14:07): I thank the member for her question. I must say that during that interview I had mistaken the question for one about FTB part A. But honestly, if after the number of interviews there were yesterday the most important thing on your mind is mistaking a question about FTBB for one about FTTA—fair enough.

But the issue raised, about grandparent carers, is a live and fair issue. There are two issues with grandparent carers under the FTB system, both A and B. The first issue is one that is very difficult to tackle and that needs to be given further policy attention, and that is that when an FTB grandparent carer is not the legal carer or guardian of the child then the money that is paid under FTBA and FTBB flows to the legal parent and may never reach the hands of the grandparent who is actually caring for the child. That is a very large problem that we have to work through, as a government and as a parliament, and fixing that problem is not easy. The secondary problem is the one you have mentioned, and unequivocally what we are doing here is trying to increase workforce participation—

Ms Macklin interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Jagajaga!

Mr PORTER: for people who receive FTBB once the child turns 13. There are about 1.3 million families who receive FTTB. Those that are now looking at having a reduction because of the fact that their child is turning 13 represent a very small number of the 1.3 million. But we are saying that there have to be proper incentives in that system for those parents to re-enter the workplace once their child turns 13. We would acknowledge that grandparent carers are probably the cohort for which ability to re-enter the workplace is more limited compared with other cohorts—not without—

Mr Shorten interjecting

Mr Husic interjecting

Ms Plibersek interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members will cease interjecting—Leader of the Opposition; member for Chifley; member for Sydney.

Mr PORTER: The assumption of members opposite is that any person who finds that their FTBB is reducing is passive and is simply not going to make any decision. The assumption of members opposite is that a grandparent carer can never re-enter the workplace, and that is a ridiculous, old-fashioned notion that has no bearing to reality. Both single-parent carers and grandparent carers have capacity. We have recognised that that capacity is somewhat more limited— (Time expired)

Mr Perrett interjecting

Mr Conroy interjecting

Mr Champion interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members will cease interjecting. The level of interjections is already far too high. The members for Moreton, Charlton and Wakefield will not continually interject.