Nick Xenophon has indicated this morning that he’s not inclined to support it in its present form. He’s also indicated that there are some of the savings in the Bill that he can support, now it doesn’t appear that that’s going to be a very long list, but I do have to sit down with Nick today and work out what that list is.
Our primary concern here is to find the $1.6 billion worth of funding that we need to invest in child care so that one million Australian families are better off. So that particularly mums and working families who may have low income can engage more in the workforce and get better, more accessible and more affordable child care.
Minister are you holding the NDIS hostage?
Look, I think that is a nonsensical statement.
The NDIS is completely committed to, it will be completely funded.
The fact remains though that in the year 2020, when it goes into full operation – Labor left a shortfall in funding, and we are trying very hard to make that shortfall up by savings rather than more borrowings, rather than higher taxes.
Nick Xenophon suggested that threat yesterday – he said it was as subtle as a sledgehammer – and suggested that that was the tipping point for him supporting this legislation. Did you go about this in the wrong way?
Look, Nick’s position is very fundamental, it think. He does not believe, whilst he very much supports the child care reforms, he does not believe that they should be paid for by savings elsewhere in the Family Tax Benefit system.
Now, that’s been the fundamental position of the Government, since we first announced any reforms to child care, and that’s a fundamental position that Nick appears to be having difficulties with.
So that appears to be the central problem that we’re facing.
Do you think it sends the wrong message though, that the only way the NDIS is going to get through is by supporting cuts to welfare?
Well that’s not what we’re saying at all. What we’re saying is the Labor Party left a $4 billion funding gap for the NDIS when it becomes fully operational in 2020. Our very strong first preference is to find appropriate savings to place into account, many of those savings have already been found, but we need to find more savings to ensure that we close that funding gap.
The only alternatives other than that, are taxation or more borrowings and they are not in the best interests of all Australians.
So where to from here? Other cuts in your portfolio?
Well, we obviously have a rolling process through budgets and ERC’s of identifying savings where we can and we’ll go back and have a look at some more of those.
Do you accept this Omnibus in its current state is dead?
Again, Nick Xenophon has indicated that there are some savings in the Omnibus Bill that he will support, and I’ll be speaking to him later today about what those are.
Not much hope of a deal with the Greens though?
I wouldn’t put that as a high probability.