25 July 2018
Transcript - #2018153, 2018

Doorstop interview, Sydney

Subjects: Aged care; education funding; National Energy Guarantee; Emma Husar; fires in Greece.

QUESTION:

Just an aged care related question.

TREASURER:

Sure, great.

QUESTION:

Fourteen thousand extra home care packages over the next 4 years, critics are saying that's not enough. Would you consider boosting that number in the years ahead?

TREASURER:

Well, 14,000 extra in-home care places in the Budget, 6,000 in the December (update) for that. So, 20,000 extra delivered over the last two Budget updates. We think that is an excellent start in addressing this issue. Giving Australians more choice about where they live in their older years and being able to stay at home, remain connected is incredibly important to Australian families and Australians as they grow older and in this year's Budget we made a very sizeable commitment to

addressing that, particularly in the higher level care packages. Now, there is more work to be done there. But that work requires the Budget to continue to strengthen and ensure that the economy continues to strengthen so we can continue to deliver on relieving that need in the community.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, the Council on the Ageing says the way aged care services are currently funded is confusing and irrational and needs rethinking. What do you think?

TREASURER:

I think we have made major strides forward in this area over the last few years and there's more work to do and we will continue working with the sector to achieve that.

QUESTION:

What do you make of reports out of the AMA that in the coming years more than a third of doctors are planning to cut back on aged care?

TREASURER:

I think the survey you are referring to actually refers to a survey undertaken before this year's Budget – it was done last year, last November. And so there's been a lot of work that has been done both in this year's Budget to address those issues identified in that survey so I'd say that that information is a little out-of-date.

QUESTION:

Are you confident that all of those issues have been addressed?

TREASURER:

Well, we'll continue to work with the sector to make sure it has. But the point about Budgets, when you hand them down, they're designed to deliver on these needs and as you implement them, you work with the sector to make sure they are and if you need to make further adjustments down the line, then you do so. That is our record as a Government. We're a very practical Government, we work closely with all sectors on the implementation of our policies and where they need to be improved or adjusted, then we do. But the important thing is that the very need that you have identified and doctors have identified was a need that was addressed in this year's Budget and we look forward to that having a positive impact.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, on energy, is the latest modelling showing the National Energy Guarantee would save households around $150 a year enough to convince the states and territories to sign up?

TREASURER:

This is the only plan, the only credible plan to reduce electricity prices in Australia. The National Energy Guarantee is the only plan that will see electricity prices fall. And that is why we are confident that as we continue to work with the states and territories they will get behind this plan. If you are for a lower electricity price, for households, for businesses, for older Australians, for younger Australians, then you will support the National Energy Guarantee. It's a practical, well-considered program, driven by the Energy Security Board with incredible experience working closely with the Commonwealth to come up with a plan that provides the stability and the certainty that is necessary to ensure that the power supply generation delivery that the country needs can be delivered in a sustainable way. That is what the National Energy Guarantee does. It means lower electricity prices for all Australians, anyone who supports lower electricity prices for all Australians will support the National Energy Guarantee.

QUESTION:

Is $150 a year enough?

TREASURER:

This is the only plan – the National Energy Guarantee – that will deliver lower electricity prices. If you go down the Labor path, which sees higher Renewable Energy Targets, higher emissions reductions targets, that can only mean higher electricity prices. Labor has a plan for higher electricity prices. Our plan, the National Energy Guarantee, means lower electricity prices. If you support lower electricity prices, you will support the National Energy Guarantee.

QUESTION:

Do you agree with Simon Birmingham that if the allegations about Emma Husar are true that Bill Shorten has no option but to sack her?

TREASURER:

I do. And I'll make this point, Bill Shorten should be the one cleaning up Ms Husar's mess – not her staff, not anyone else – it should be Bill Shorten that is cleaning up her mess. Now, I would hope, I note that she's taken leave for personal reasons and I hope she is well. But I would hope that the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, has shown as much concern about the welfare of her staff as he's expressed for the member.

QUESTION:

Are you satisfied with the investigation that's being held?

TREASURER:

I have no knowledge of the investigation. It's one that's being conducted by the Labor Party. So I think that should be fully public and should be made available to the appropriate Department of Finance authorities as well because this goes to the welfare of members of staff of Parliamentary members. I mean, the Labor Party talks a big game when it comes to looking after workers but it seems they can't look after their own workers.

QUESTION:

The Government is maintaining that Catholic schools are still getting an increase in funding but do you concede that the schools are right to say that that's less than what they were anticipating under the previous model, so effectively it is a cut?

TREASURER:

Mr Birmingham has been working closely with the sector and I think has already answered those questions. He'll continue to work, I think, constructively with the sector. I have had discussions with them, as has the Prime Minister. What we are delivering is real needs-based funding for schools all across the country. No special deals. Ensuring that all students, all around the country, and parents all around the country, can have the confidence that wherever their children go to school, that they are getting genuine needs-based funding from the Commonwealth and as well as from the state and territory governments. This is a new partnership, the Gonski 2.0 funding is a watershed in delivering sustainability and durability and fairness of funding across all schools. It's taken a Commonwealth Turnbull Government to deliver that new plan, to provide the resources for that new plan, unless you have a strong economy, there is not extra funding for schools. There's just bigger deficits and that only retards the economy and undercuts even more the ability to deliver – whether it is essential services in our schools or our hospitals or indeed for aged care or in-home aged care places. That's why a stronger economy is the guarantee of stronger funding for schools and any of these essential services. If you don't have a plan for a stronger economy, that delivers a stronger economy as the Turnbull Government does, then you do not have a plan for schools funding, you don't have a plan for pensions, you don't have a plan for social services support, aged care, hospitals, you don't have a plan for any of those essential services all you've got is a Budget talk.

QUESTION:

Whether or not it's been [inaudible] it's a cut isn't it?

TREASURER:

As I said, Minister Birmingham has already addressed those issues.

QUESTION:

Can I just quickly grab you on the Greek fires? The country there has asked help from the European Union in the first instance. Any plans for Australia to provide financial assistance or otherwise?

TREASURER:

Well, those questions are best addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and I'm sure any requests are being promptly considered and addressed. But as a country that is very familiar with the heartbreak and tragedy of fires, and as a country that also has one of the largest expatriate populations of Greek nationals of anywhere around the world, we deeply empathise with those who are caught up in these tragic fires in Greece. And there will be many Australians, I'm sure, who have family members that may be affected, including from my own electorate in southern Sydney who will be deeply concerned and so it is a very, very trying and testing day for those families, but we stand with our Greek relatives overseas and of Australians and for those, from all around the world who are affected by these fires. This is an area of great tourist activity as well. And the stories actually – they are very upsetting. And there will be many Australians upset about this today and they can be assured that the Australian Government will provide whatever response is appropriate in these circumstances. Thank you.