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Transcript of interview: ABC Radio National, Drive with Waleed Aly:1 October 2012: Dad and Partner Pay; same-sex marriage; Alan Jones



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Dad and Partner Pay, same-sex marriage, Alan Jones 01 October 2012 Interviewer: Waleed Aly Program: ABC Radio National Drive with Waleed Aly

E & OE - Proof only

WALEED ALY: Jenny Macklin, thank you for joining us on the program.

JENNY MACKLIN: Thank you Waleed.

WALEED ALY: Two weeks?

JENNY MACKLIN: Two weeks. I think for many dads it will be a very welcome two weeks that they can spend at home. So many dads don't get the chance to have that very special early time with their newborn babies, and certainly many dads I know would love to be there.

WALEED ALY: Two weeks isn't long though. Is this a first step or is this as far as we're going?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I certainly hope it is a first step. I think over time we will see it expanded. But it's a great first step, because so many dads these days do understand just how special it is.

WALEED ALY: What's your aim?

JENNY MACKLIN: Really to give dads some time at home with their newborn baby…

WALEED ALY: …no no no. I mean what's your aim in terms of time?

JENNY MACKLIN: Oh, I see. My aim is to get this properly implemented Waleed. That's what we're doing right now and I'm sure some time in the future it will change, but right now…

WALEED ALY: …three weeks, four weeks.

JENNY MACKLIN: We'll start with two.

WALEED ALY: You're not going to give me a number, are you?

JENNY MACKLIN: [laughs] I'm not, no.

WALEED ALY: Well why not? You must have kicked this around.

JENNY MACKLIN: [laughs] We've got two weeks to deliver, and let's start there.

WALEED ALY: All right, let's talk about the delivery then. How much does it cost?

JENNY MACKLIN: Around $65 million, so obviously that's a lot of money and we do want to be careful. We're setting the same rules that we have for paid parental leave, that largely goes to mums. So the same income tests of $150,000 for the dad, and the payment will be $606 a week which is the national minimum wage before tax.

WALEED ALY: Okay, so now I'm going to ask the compulsory budget surplus question. Given that amount of money, given that there's been a downturn in iron ore prices, that the money coming in from the mining boom is reducing and the pricing boom is over if not the mining boom itself, and given that all we've heard so far from the Treasury is don't worry, we'll get there, we'll be tough, how exactly are you going to find the money for this?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well this is actually already in the Budget, it was in the Budget last year, and in the meantime we've just been consulting with employers and other organisations about the implementation. But it's in the Budget, it is a commitment that we made to implement it, but I think it goes to your opening remarks about why isn't it more. We know that when making these commitments we have to be careful about it. And that's what we're doing.

WALEED ALY: One of the interesting aspects of it is that this is expanded to include partners in same-sex relationships…

JENNY MACKLIN: …that was, that's not quite right. It's actually the case that the original paid parental leave scheme that we put in place in January last year was also available for same-sex couples.

WALEED ALY: Okay. But now their partners are.

JENNY MACKLIN: That's correct. Yeah.

WALEED ALY: It's interesting that this is happening though at a really unusual, not unusual, at an instructive, perhaps totemic time in the issue of gay marriage, where you've had legislation voted down at the federal level, you've had legislation pass the lower house and then get voted down at the Senate in Tasmania at the state level. Why does it seem that we're moving in two opposite directions here, that there's an expansion of rights such as these but then on the other hand, the gay marriage debate at least in parliamentary terms seems to be going nowhere?

JENNY MACKLIN: There's been quite a push for some time to deal with the discrimination that was in existence in many, many parts of the, certainly if I can just talk about the Commonwealth, many parts of Commonwealth legislation. And we've been dealing with those, we did a lot when we first came into government to get rid of the discrimination in relation to superannuation, a lot of the social security payments that I'm responsible for.

WALEED ALY: So what is it about the marriage hurdle then?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I voted in favour of marriage equality so maybe I'm not the right person to ask.

WALEED ALY: No, but you might have an analysis about it.

JENNY MACKLIN: I think for some people, marriage is obviously something that they have particular views about. Personally I think if people love each other and they want to be able to get married and show it in that way they should be able to.

WALEED ALY: Jenny Macklin, just before I let you go, what do you think of Alan Jones?

JENNY MACKLIN: I thought his comments were absolutely disgusting, and I thought the way he tried to get out of it yesterday was also just beyond the pale.

WALEED ALY: Well why's that? I mean he made a pretty unconditional apology.

JENNY MACKLIN: I don't think so, he made an apology because he was caught out, and…

WALEED ALY: …did you want him to make an apology when it wasn't public knowledge?

JENNY MACKLIN: Beg your pardon?

WALEED ALY: Did you want him to make an apology when it wasn't public knowledge?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think he should have realised that he went too far. I mean of course I don't think he should have made the comments in the first place. And I think the problem for Alan Jones is he just keeps making disgraceful comments over and over. And that's why I think he should be taken off the air.

WALEED ALY: Now you've said he should be taken off the air, Nicola Roxon has said that 2GB should consider taking him off the air. Is it really the Government’s place to make those sorts of requests or comments?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well it's certainly my view. I think his comments as I said were just a disgrace, I think they're incredibly hurtful, and imagine if it was your dad or any of your listener's dads that was being talked about in that way, imagine how you would feel? And I don't think it's a decent way for anybody who's on the radio regularly to behave. I just don't think it's a decent way to behave.

WALEED ALY: I don't think anyone's disputing that, least of all Alan Jones himself. I mean…

JENNY MACKLIN: …well obviously he does dispute it, because you know he makes these comments. This is not the first time he's made disgraceful remarks about the Prime Minister, and you know, he just thinks it's all right to go on making them and I don't agree with that. I think there is a level of public decency and he's well and truly just continues to say the most disgusting things, especially about the Prime Minister.

WALEED ALY: And he continues to have an audience, and advertisers, even though some are starting to drop off as a result of this, at least in the short term. He gets lots of ratings. And at the end of the day, he is a major shareholder in his own radio station. So you can run the critique that you are and you can say as much as you like…

JENNY MACKLIN: …well you asked the question, that's why I'm answering it.

WALEED ALY: No, no, I understand that. But at the end of the day he's not really going anywhere is he?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I see today a number of the sponsors have taken their money away and I think they recognise, like I do, that what he said was truly disgraceful.

WALEED ALY: Jenny Macklin, thank you.

JENNY MACKLIN: Thank you.

WALEED ALY: And thanks for putting up with my questioning on a wider range of issues than just your own initiative today, I appreciate it.

JENNY MACKLIN: That's all right.

WALEED ALY: Jenny Macklin, Federal Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs speaking to us there on RN Drive.

[ends]