Oct 28, 2016

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects: Dreamworld, Paid Parental Leave, Melbourne Cup, Newspoll

SYLVIA JEFFREYS: Thousands of parents claiming Government benefits are financially better off not getting a job, according to new figures in the Australian this morning. The data shows family benefits can total more than the average wage of a nurse or a teacher in this country, which is more than $45,000 tax-free a year.

Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us now. We’re going to climb into that in just a moment but first gentlemen I’d like to get your thoughts, of course, on the Dreamworld disaster, which has dominated the headlines this week and also had a profound impact on people right across the country. Christopher is there anything that can be done to prevent a disaster like that happening again?

PYNE: Well Sylvia obviously it’s a terrible tragedy. I’m the father of four children and they love to have fun and we all just want to go to things like Dreamworld, Disney around the world if they get the chance and it’s the last thing you’d ever think would happen is a terrible tragedy at an amusement park like that. I think every parent, every Australian, has really been affected by this this week. In terms of what can be done, it’s a very highly regulated area already. We need to see what the police reports are, what the investigations show, whether there was human error, whether it was mechanical error, and then obviously try and do the things to make sure it can never happen again. It’s a terrible tragedy for us.

JEFFREYS: It’s still hard to comprehend, isn’t it Anthony?

ALBANESE: It certainly is. I’ve been on that ride with my son and my wife and seeing that incredible footage – it would have been just terrible, not just for the families but for anyone who was there on that day and I think at this stage what we need to do is just reach out and hope that the families somehow can struggle their way through this.

JEFFREYS: We have been assured by police that there will be a very thorough investigation so we will of course watch that with interest. Alright, let’s speak about this welfare story on the front page of the Australian this morning. As I mentioned; $45,000 tax-free a year for someone not lifting a finger. Christopher, we know Christian Porter is determined to crack down on welfare; he’s obviously given this data to the Australian this morning. How are you going to rein it in though?

PYNE: The good side of this story is that Australia has a very generous safety net, which is a good part of our country. We’re a very wealthy country, wealthier than almost every other country in the world, apart from I think Norway and maybe Switzerland, so we do have a generous safety net. But also people need to be part of our society, part of our community, working, making a difference. So Christian Porter is trying to rein in welfare.


PYNE: Well he’s got legislation in the Senate right now…

JEFFREYS: The Paid Parental Leave?

PYNE: No, not Paid Parental Leave, that’s just one part of it. There are other pieces of legislation that he’s putting through the Parliament to try and ensure that people have an incentive to work rather than stay home. And the Labor Party and the Greens and some of the crossbenchers haven’t indicated they’re going to support it.

JEFFREYS: Well one of the first measures he’s floated is a $96 million plan to trial a program of intervention. That’s just spending more money.

PYNE: Well he’s trying to get intervention, is basically trying to get, particularly single parent households the opportunities to get back into the workforce, to get training to get back into the workforce. That’s a positive thing. $96 million I can tell you to try and do that is a drop in the ocean…

JEFFREYS: Ninety-six million dollars is a lot of money.

PYNE: It’s a drop in the ocean compared to the billions of dollars that we’re trying to save by having welfare reform, which the Labor Party is blocking in the Senate with the Greens.

JEFFREYS: I would suggest that it doesn’t seem like a drop in the ocean to mothers who are pregnant at the moment and potentially about to lose a lot of their Paid Parental Leave.

PYNE: Well it’s very useful for the single mums who are trying to get training and get back into the workforce.

JEFFREYS: Alright, Anthony your Government of course helped us get to this point. What needs to be done about it?

ALBANESE: Well we need to make sure that in any changes that are proposed we look at what the impact would be. The Government’s proposed changes to Paid Parental Leave will impact on 80,000 working mothers in particular. It’s a disadvantage for them being in the workforce if these cuts to Paid Parental Leave go through.

PYNE: But that wasn’t the question.

JEFFREYS: Just quickly Christopher, how far is Malcolm Turnbull willing to negotiate to get the Paid Parental Leave changes through? July 1, October 1?

PYNE: Anthony didn’t answer your question. He’s just talked about how we should spend more money.

JEFFREYS: This is a new question; July 1 or October 1? How far is he willing to negotiate?

PYNE: Well we’ll negotiate with the Senate because that’s the way our democracy works. What we’re trying to do is say to people, if you’ve got 18 weeks from the Commonwealth Government, but you’ve got a more generous employer scheme, why should the taxpayer pay you both the 18 weeks on the taxpayer plus your own private scheme? I think that’s perfectly reasonable, Labor says they want to pay more money.

ALBANESE: But the difference is…

PYNE: Coalition is trying to rein it in; Labor is trying to spend more.

ALBANESE: But the fact is that people have given up conditions, they’ve given up wage increases in order to get Paid Parental Leave into their awards and they shouldn’t be disadvantaged as a result.

PYNE: It’s a bottomless pit for Labor.

ALBANESE: Paid Parental Leave helps productivity.

JEFFREYS: Well the PM is going to have to negotiate very hard to get that through and we’ll wait and see where that ends up. Gentlemen, Karl wants your tips for the Melbourne Cup – what are they?

PYNE: Hartnell for me.

ALBANESE: Look I think a horse will win.

JEFFREYS: Albo you’re as bad as Richard Wilkins.

PYNE: You should join the race, you’d do well (inaudible).

ALBANESE: I’m holding back but if I put forward my tip it might change the odds you see.

JEFFREYS: Well you didn’t necessarily back a winner into the PM’s office, Christopher Pyne, judging by the polls this week so I might stick with Anthony Albanese on Cup Day.

PYNE: What, Malcolm Turnbull?

ALBANESE: I thought you didn’t back Turnbull, I thought you stayed out of all of that.

PYNE: Malcolm Turnbull was the winner and I voted for him as I said back then.