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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 541

Pensions and Benefits


Ms MACKLIN (Jagajaga) (14:47): My question is to the Minister for Social Services. I refer to the minister's previous answer, and I quote:

… we have invested all of the money that we are saving from the family tax benefit system.

But, under its policy, the government is cutting $2.7 billion in family payments and only spending $1.6 billion on its childcare policy. Is the minister aware he was misleading the Australian people, or is he just plain incompetent?


Mr PORTER (PearceMinister for Social Services) (14:48): I should have said 'almost all', that is true.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my left! I am trying to hear the answer.

Mr PORTER: But it does give me the opportunity—

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Jagajaga will resume her seat. Members on my left will cease interjecting. The member for Jagajaga cannot have a point order within 17 seconds; that is a record. The minister has the call.

Mr PORTER: In the omnibus bill that we brought before the parliament, there are significant reductions in the savings that we have achieved. The reduced savings from the family tax benefits system are about $1.72 billion. The reduced savings from the paid parental leave changes are about $700 million. The childcare costs, in the end, are about $1.6 billion.

All of the money that is being reinvested, of course, is very important to making sure that childcare goes ahead. If I might return to a point that I tried to come to in an earlier answer but was unfortunately prevented from doing but that you have now given me an opportunity to raise, there was a situation that developed with respect to the previous government—

Mr Burke: What's going on?

Mr PORTER: where they did go into the family assistance process—

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. The member for Jagajaga will resume her seat. The minister is halfway through a sentence. I heard the Manager of Opposition Business ask, 'What's going on?' I think we are about to find out, but I caution the minister to remain relevant to the question that is being asked, not a previous question. But I do say to the member for Jagajaga that the preamble to her question did refer to his previous answer. The minister has the call.

Mr PORTER: I have been asked about the reinvestment of our savings from the family tax benefits system into childcare. The lion's share of the savings from the family tax benefit savings are being reinvested into childcare. It is generational reform.

But what is very interesting about the structural changes that allow you to save money in the family assistance system and move it into proper investment in childcare is that over six years members opposite took $23 billion out of the family assistance system. In fact, the list is so long it is on a spreadsheet: changes to rules for receiving family and parental payments overseas; indexation pauses on upper limits of family payments—

Mr Bowen interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for McMahon!

Mr PORTER: prevent payment of family tax benefit Part A instalments for customers who provide inaccurate estimates; pause indexation of family tax benefit supplements; extend pause FTB B; remove expansion of link to FTB A; cease fortnightly payments for recipients who do not lodge tax returns. What they moved out of the family assistance system was $23 billion worth of savings that they took out of the family tax benefit system. And how much of that did they reinvest into childcare over six years? Absolutely none.

What we are presenting the parliament and the Australian people with is a system that invests a massive amount of money found in savings in the family tax benefit system. That allows 230,000 Australians who have said that the reason they cannot engage, or engage more, with the childcare system is because of a failure to reform that system to be helped by this major reinvestment. It is a reinvestment that we are making and that you were never able to make. (Time expired)