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Transcript of interview: Channel Ten Breakfast with Paul Henry: 7 May 2012



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Schoolkids Bonus, Budget, Household Assistance Package, Coalition clawbacks. 07 May 2012 Interviewer: Paul Henry Program: Channel Ten Breakfast

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PAUL HENRY: Jenny Macklin, Minister for Families and Community Services joins me now. Jenny, good morning to you. Thank you for your time.

JENNY MACKLIN: Thank you, Paul.

PAUL HENERY: Let’s talk about some of the details with regard to this. When will it be paid out?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well the first payment will be paid in June this year. That’s if we get the legislation through, so we certainly need the Opposition to stop carrying on and make sure that they support the Government in our efforts to give this Schoolkids Bonus to parents. The first payment at the end of June, but then it will get into the normal cycle and will start in January next year, just before the school year starts, and then the second payment will be in July next year.

PAUL HENRY: Alright so essentially, we’ve got a graphic up graphic up here, $410 for each primary school child per year, $820 for high school children per year.

JENNY MACKLIN: That's right. We understand that parents do need this extra bit of help, especially at the start and in the middle of the school year to make sure that they can pay for all of the things that kids need. I know for me it was the endless pairs of shoes.

PAUL HENRY: Absolutely

JENNY MACKLIN: Especially when the boys kept growing.

PAUL HENRY: But in essence they can spend it on whatever they like - alcohol or lotto tickets or whatever, can't they?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I hear the Opposition saying those things. I think that’s pretty insulting to parents. Parents who have got children at school know that they’ve got to provide the things that their children need, whether it’s their uniforms or school books and so on. We know that they need this extra help and that’s why we are giving

PAUL HENRY: Absolutely. I suppose the reason I mention that is this is starkly different to the previous system where they actually had to provide receipts.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well the problem was for many parents who just don't have much time in their day, collecting the receipts, having to pay upfront, meant a lot of parents weren’t getting the benefit. So we want to make sure we give the money to parents, they have it when they need it, before they need to go out and buy the uniforms and school books and that means it will be good for families.

PAUL HENRY: And of course it is means tested. What is the threshold?

JENNY MACKLIN: If you’re on Family Tax Benefit Part A, so that depends on the number of children you have, but up to around $120,000 a family.

PAUL HENRY: So a family income over $120,000 and you won't be eligible for this?

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s correct, so up until that level, you will be receiving $410 for every primary school child and $820 for every secondary school child.

PAUL HENRY: Above a family income of $120,000, you will be receiving nothing?

JENNY MACKLIN: $120,000, that's right. Depending on the number of children you have.

PAUL HENRY: Let's talk about the loss carry backs for business as well. Because these are, obviously these things have been announced earlier because they are to a degree sweeteners, because people know there is bad news on the horizon and the horizon kicks in tomorrow. The loss carry backs, from your experience, is this going to affect many businesses positively? Are they going to think, "Oh well, at least we’re not going to have to pay that tax arguably in advance, we can spend that money on investment", which is the idea?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I’m the Minister for Families, so this is really a question that you should ask to the Treasurer, but what we are really keen to do is provide this additional assistance to small businesses. We know that small businesses are the great employers of the nation, so that’s why the Treasurer has made this change and it’s because he does want to see small business prosper.

PAUL HENRY: At the end of the day, this is all giving with one hand and taking with the another because the carbon tax will suck up much of the benefit, won't it?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well we are providing additional assistance to families to make sure that they can have that extra money in their pocket when the carbon price comes in. What we are doing with the Schoolkids Bonus is recognising that parents have got a lot of costs when it comes to making sure that they get their kids ready for school, and that’s why the Government has made room, in a very tough Budget, to make sure that we can provide this additional assistance for parents.

PAUL HENRY: Is it frustrating for you, Jenny, knowing that all of this effort has gone into embroider the carbon tax into policy, into the economy, and just around the corner the Coalition will get in and dump it?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think the Coalition needs to come clean and say to parents and everyone else who will be receiving money in their bank accounts in the next couple of months, is the Coalition really going to claw that money out of people’s bank accounts, out of their purses and wallets? Are they going to take all that money off families, off pensioners? I doubt it. So let's wait and see. But what I do know is that families and pensioners and others will be very pleased to receive the extra assistance that they will get in their bank accounts in the next few weeks.

PAUL HENRY: Alright Jenny, a lot talking about this remains to be done over the next few days at least. Jenny Macklin, Minister for Families and Community Services, thank you very much for joining us.

JENNY MACKLIN: Thank you.