2CC Canberra with Mark Parton

  • Assistant Minister for Education

2CC Canberra with Mark Parton
Tuesday 26/08/2015 8:08am

SUBJECT: Interview with Sussan Ley, Assistant Minister for Education.

MARK PARTON: I tell you who we’ve got on the line right now is Sussan Ley, and that’s basically because we in the ACT get the chance to have a say about childcare and Sussan Ley’s the minister responsible for childcare. Hello, good morning.

SUSSAN LEY: Morning, Mark.

MARK PARTON: How much time do you spend looking at Newspoll figures?

SUSSAN LEY: Look, I’ll leave that to my expert colleagues in the media. I haven’t studied the poll this morning and, you know, polls come and go.

MARK PARTON: They do come and go but, I mean look, obviously if you’re having a run where you’re trailing the other mob by a bit, it must spark a bit of discussion about how to turn things around.

SUSSAN LEY: Look, my sort of overwhelming feeling coming back to Canberra, Mark, is that the Labor Party’s happy to trade short-term political gain for next generation, our children, paying off the debt. It is extraordinary that nobody is knuckling down to the task except ourselves about how we deal with this debt. I don’t mind if people have different ideas about how we pay it back, but there should be general acceptance. All our expert economic and Treasury commentators have said that it is getting out of control and needs to be dealt with. And even with the Budget that Joe Hockey brought down, we still wouldn’t have paid it back for 10 years so we were taking a moderate course.

MARK PARTON: It’s interesting – there was a really interesting video put up on one of the Fairfax websites yesterday with I think Andrew Laming on video and Andrew Leigh in their little studio there, and the interviewer put to Andrew Leigh this suggestion - which I’m sure you won’t want to canvas anymore – this suggestion that there’d be more taxes introduced if indeed these last budget measures weren’t put forward, and the interviewer said to Andrew Leigh, well, surely you’d be happy with that, Andrew Leigh, because you’ve always said you want the burden spread further to the rich? But, of course, he’s not happy with it at all.

SUSSAN LEY: Well, it was Ronald Regan I think who said no country ever taxed its way to prosperity, and that’s absolutely right. And you don’t have to invest your money in Australia, even if you’re Australian. You can invest it overseas, you can take your entrepreneurship and your innovation and your good ideas and do them somewhere else if the tax rate in Australia is too high. And Tony Abbott just said in this morning’s press conference in Melbourne that the last thing we want to do is raise taxes. That’s not what we’re about.

MARK PARTON: Onto other matters, ACT residents being encouraged to have their say about making child care more affordable, flexible and accessible. Analysis shows that we have the largest increase in enrolments in the nation. Why would that be?

SUSSAN LEY: Well, I think one of the reasons is that people in the ACT don’t often have the extended family support. They’ve come here for temporary or long-term periods of work and grandparents, who often step in to help, are elsewhere. But the other factor is just unaffordability and there’s demand on childcare, and the places aren’t there. The waiting lists are huge at some centres in the ACT.

MARK PARTON: Alright, so how can people have their say on this?

SUSSAN LEY: Well, the Productivity Commission’s having its last hearing today in Canberra. That’s set and they’ve got their people lined up to talk to, but anyone who wants to put down just a short email or a long dissertation, it doesn’t matter what, can send it to the PC before the fifth of September. So if you log onto their website at www.PC.gov.au, you can see how easy it is. I really want to hear from everyone because child care and early learning is different in the ACT than it is in every other corner of the country. We want to get it right here, just as we want to in my home turf which is outback New South Wales.

MARK PARTON: Now, I can hear people listening this morning saying oh well, look, I mean, I use child care and I’ve got some thoughts on it but what I’ve got to say won’t be of any importance to anyone in the Government or the Productivity Commission and that’s wrong, isn’t it?

SUSSAN LEY: It’s completely wrong because your experience, your frustration and your thoughts are vital. I mean, we’ve got the Police Federation appearing before the PC today. They, I’m sure, will say that if you’re coming back to work after having a baby, you can’t work shift work, you come back to a desk job, and that’s not why you joined up. Whether it’s police, ambulance, emergency services, nursing, they all say the same thing. Or we’ve got people who are often women - because it’s usually a women’s issue - coming back to work. Talented, imaginative, lots to contribute, working two days a week in a job that’s below the level they’re trained for just because of the childcare conundrum. So we want to fix this. We’re serious about it. This is a process we said we’d embark on before the last election, and we’ll have new policy settings early next year.

MARK PARTON: And so, again, what’s the simplest way that people can have their say?

SUSSAN LEY: Log onto the Productivity Commission website and send them an email, and they will consider it.

MARK PARTON: Excellent. Thanks for your time this morning, Sussan.

SUSSAN LEY: Cheers, Mark.

MARK PARTON: Sussan Ley, who’s the minister responsible for child care.


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