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Sunrise -

View in ParlView

Subjects: Paid parental leave; Childhood obesity; Mental health

DOYLE: Good morning to you.

PM: Good morning Mel.

DOYLE: This is good news for you, as well as parents.

PM: Oh no, it's good news for parents. There's about 148,000 parents across Australia we think will
benefit from this scheme. It's been a long time in the planning. People have been waiting for it
for a long, long time, and we got it through the Senate last night. So it just helps with some of
those real cost of living pressures which parents have when a newborn comes. But critically, it
gives, gives parents more of a time to spend time with the newborn in those critical few months
after the baby arrives home.

DOYLE: Yeah. Just a quick comment then, too- I mean, not everyone's sold on the idea-

PM: Yeah.

DOYLE: I've got an email, 16 year old Rachael Fisk says she doesn't know, she doesn't think, sorry,
that it's fair that stay at home mums get paid close to what is now on offer to working parents
taking leave. Rachael thinks it's a couple's choice to have kids, so they should look after them
for free. Obviously this is a point that comes up a lot in this discussion. What are your thoughts?

PM: Well look, what we're trying to do is also get the balance right here for stay at home mums on
the one hand, who do a fantastic job, and those who choose to go back to the workplace. Because
every parent's circumstances are different. The baby bonus still applies to mums who stay at home.
And also, what's called Family Tax Benefit A, and Family Tax Benefit B. And you put these things
together, depending on your family's circumstances, there's still a fair bit of support there if
you're a stay at home mum whose job is absolutely critical.

Therese, in our life, has sort of, you know, done both with the bub early on, our first one. She
was stay at home for a while. Later on she was back into the workforce. So, really, circumstances
change, and we're trying to make sure that this support is there at a practical and flexible level
for mums out there and parents, a lot of them. And this is good news for those families.

DOYLE: Alright. I've got another viewer question for you now, Gabby. Gabby, good morning to you-
what's your question for the Prime Minister?

VIEWER: Good morning Prime Minister.

PM: Good morning Gabby.

VIEWER: My question is, currently the Australian Government allows certain children's sport-
educational expenses like internet use and computer purchases which is great, and very important.
But I wonder whether the Australian Government could consider thinking long term, because of the
extremely high childhood obesity rates, whether they could consider making certain sporting
expenses a tax deduction to encourage and assist struggling families like myself. I mean, I have
two gorgeous sons, but rugby union fees, swimming lessons, things like that, I wonder if they could
become tax deductions. I'd hate to think that the rich get fit and the poor get fat.

PM: Alright. Gabby, thanks very much for your question, and thank you also for supporting those two
boys of yours out there playing rugby and swimming. And the cost of rugby boots, I know, is for
example very high. Then you've got the membership fees and everything else. Look, I wish I could
just, you know, promise to fix everything along these lines. But I can't. And no previous
Australian Government has provided tax deductions for sporting gear or memberships of the type that
you describe.

What we have done, and you referred to this in the beginning of your question, is we've brought in
this thing called an education tax refund, for both secondary school students, and primary school
students. So for the first time, you have an opportunity for tax deductions for things like books,
computers as you mentioned before, but also if your kids are doing trades at school, for certain
critical tools as well, internet use as you said. And that's designed to take some pressure off the
family budget overall, so that there is a bit more space to help fund those extras that you're
talking about, which is really critical to keep our kids active and in community sport. But I'm
sorry, I can't just fix this one.

DOYLE: Yeah, but no, it's wonderful that Gabby's boys are so active, and there's a lot of families
in the same boat there. Can I talk about health?

PM: Yeah.

DOYLE: It's been a major focus of your Government.

PM: Yeah.

DOYLE: I was at a function the other night, and, and, got chatting to the lovely Australian of the
Year, Patrick McGorry. We were talking about mental illness, mental health. And he was saying that
those with mental illness are three times less likely to access care than those with physical
health issues. So, my question to you this morning is when will you give mental health sector the
same focus that you've given, for example, public hospitals.

PM: Sure. Well, Patrick does some fantastic work. And he's had a lot to say about the further needs
in this mental health sector. On mental health, one of the, I think, the organisations which he's
got started I think is called Headspace, from memory.

DOYLE: Yes.

PM: And it's really targeted on adolescents. I've been to one of his places I think down in
Melbourne, in Sunrise- in Sunshine, I should say- you're Sunrise, Sunshine's down there. And they
do terrific work with early interventions with young people, and provide a whole range of services
for young people.

DOYLE: But I think they need more.

PM: Yeah, yeah.

DOYLE: I understand that they do fund many places, but there's about another three quarters of a
million young Australians with unmet mental illness needs.

PM: You're absolutely right. And what we've done in the Budget is double the number of Headspace
operations around the country. Just off the top of my head Mel, I can't give you the exact number.

DOYLE: You just expanded to an extra 20,000.

PM: That's true. And this, I am fully prepared to concede on your program, is the beginning of a
whole lot more work that's needed to be done in the whole sphere of mental health. We're also
funding additional mental health nurses.

DOYLE: Great.

PM: So you know what the two big areas of future health reform are, Mel? Getting mental health
reform right, and getting aged care absolutely right for long term reform as well. We've tackled
the public hospital system. We've tackled primary healthcare. But these are the two big areas still
to be done, and we're determined to get on with it.

DOYLE: And as we know, those two areas, when they're addressed, will ease up the pressure obviously
on hospitals, which is facing in the middle.

PM: Yeah.

DOYLE: Prime Minister, thanks very much for your time, good to talk to you this Friday.

PM: Thanks Mel, appreciate being on the program.