Doorstop Interview, Canberra
- Minister for Education and Training
Topics: New child care fee data; AFP warrants on AWU offices
Simon Birmingham: New data that’s being released today in relation to child care costs. The growth in child care costs to Australian families remains unacceptably high. Now, under this Coalition, we have managed to stem that rate of increase compared to what it had been under the Labor Party, but it is still unacceptably high. And the good news to hard-working Australian families struggling with their child care costs is that help is on the way. The Turnbull Government’s new child care subsidy will take effect from 2 July next year and that will provide greater levels of subsidy, abolish the $7500 rebate cap and really give extra help to so many hard-working Australian families. In fact, around almost one million Australian families will be better off under our child care reforms to help them juggle and balance work and family obligations, to help them meet the day to day living costs.
While here, I will reflect on the topic that I’m sure you will ask me about. There is no doubt today the Labor Party will be completely distracted, wanting to ask about a Coalition staff member who resigned his job last night rather than talking about redress scheme to help victims of child sexual abuse, rather than talking about record jobs growth, rather than talking about the Coalition’s policies to put downward pressure on electricity prices. There are many, many important issues in Australia. Now, [indistinct] last night, asking about the staff member who has resigned. He resigned over a serious matter but the Australian people should expect the Australian Parliament to talk about issues that matter to them. The Coalition will be doing that today; the Turnbull Government will be doing that today. We’re talking about how it is we are going to give fair and appropriate assistance to victims of child sexual abuse, how we’re responding to the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse; these are serious, weighty matters and we have a comprehensive response which Christian Porter has released.
In terms of this staff member: indeed, he’s resigned, the Minister has updated her statements to the Senate; all those matters have now been dealt with. The independent Registered Organisations Commission will continue with its investigation appropriately into whether or not the AWU misused union workers’ money.
Journalist: Is it inevitable that she’d have to resign after misleading Parliament?
Simon Birmingham: Absolutely not. The practice in terms of misleading Parliament is that ministers rightly resign if they have knowingly, intentionally misled the Parliament. Minister Cash did no such thing. Minister Cash told the Senate honestly what she knew at every moment that she knew it and when she was given updated advice during a dinner break last night, she went straight back into the Senate and updated that information. She could not have been more honest, more upfront, more direct with the Senate. So Minister Cash has done absolutely everything that the Parliament would expect of her in keeping the Parliament up to date. That of course is in contrast to the fact that this raid- this raid only occurred because there were allegations that the AWU were potentially destroying documents in relation to an investigation about possible breaches of the law. They’re very serious issues, they are rightly being handled by the independent Registered Organisations Commission who independently, with the approval of a magistrate, sought this raid which was approved by the magistrate, through the independent Australian Federal Police and they undertook it as serious matters, they’re rightly being independently investigated and of course that should run a proper course.
Journalist: Is it a sign of incompetence that she didn’t know what senior staff in her office were doing?
Simon Birmingham: Well I think, as Minister Porter has said already this morning, ministers don’t have telepathic powers, we can only know what we are told. And of course, the moment, the moment Minister Cash found out, appropriate action occurred: the resignation of a staff member and the first opportunity she had to update the senate, she took it.