ALP Will Oppose Budget Measures On Pensions, Youth Support, Family Tax Benefits And GP Co-Payment

Following Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s Budget Reply speech tonight, the ALP has announced that it will oppose a series of Budget measures in the Parliament.

Statements from shadow ministers Jenny Macklin, Catherine King, Brendan O’Connor and Julie Collins say that the ALP will oppose:

  • Increasing the pension age to 70.
  • Changes to pension indexation arrangements.
  • Forcing young people under 30 to wait 6 months before receiving income support.
  • Moving people under 25 from Newstart to the lower-paying Youth Allowance.
  • Cutting families off Family Tax Benefit B when their youngest child turns 6.
  • The $7 co-payment for visit for visits to a general practitioner.

The ALP and the Greens have a blocking majority in the Senate until June 30. Neither party will oppose the Appropriation Bills, but where separate legislation is required they will have the ability to block measures.

After July 1, the ALP, Greens and the Palmer United Party group will have the numbers to block legislation in the Senate. Alternatively, either the ALP or the Greens will be able to guarantee passage of government bills. If the ALP and Greens are opposed to legislation, the government will need the support of 6 of the 8 crossbenchers.

Statement from Jenny Macklin, Shadow Minister for Families and Payments, and Disability Reform.

LABOR TO OPPOSE ABBOTT’S PENSION ATTACK

Labor will oppose Tony Abbott’s savage attack on Australia’s pension system and the millions of Australian pensioners who rely on it.

Labor will oppose Tony Abbott’s decision to increase the pension age to 70. [Read more…]


Act Of Recognition Passes In House Of Representatives

A Bill recognising the “unique and special place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples” has been passed by the House of Representatives.

The Bill is a step on the path to constitutional recognition. Its passage came on the fifth anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations. [Read more…]


Jenny Macklin Apologises For Comment About The Dole

The Minister for Families, Jenny Macklin, has apologised for her New Year’s Day comment that she would be able to live on the daily Newstart allowance.

Macklin

Appearing at today’s press conference called by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to announce the details of the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse, Macklin was asked about her comments.

Macklin said she could understand why people were angry and she was “very sorry”.

The minister’s original remarks were made on the same day the government moved 80,000 single parents from the parenting payment to the lower Newstart allowance. Some single parents are $100 worse off each week.

Earlier today, the former prime minister, Kevin Rudd, called on the government to “show a bit of heart and do more” to help those on the dole.

  • Listen to Jenny Macklin’s remarks (1m)

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Royal Commission Into Child Sexual Abuse: Commissioners, Terms Of Reference Announced

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has announced the names of six Commissioners and the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Gillard

The Royal Commission will be led by Justice Peter McClellan, currently Chief Judge at Common Law of the Supreme Court of NSW.

He will be assisted by the former Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson; Justice Jennifer Coate, the Victorian Coroner; Robert Fitzgerald, a Commissioner with the Productivity Commission; Professor Helen Milroy, a consultatn psychiatrist; and Andrew Murray, former Democrats Senator.

The Royal Commission will not examine child sexual abuse in families.

Gillard was joined by Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and Families Minister Jenny Macklin at her press conference.

  • Listen to Gillard, Macklin & Roxon announce the details of the Royal Commission (43m)

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  • Listen to reaction from Hetty Johnson of Bravehearts (12m)

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  • Royal Commission Terms of Reference (PDF) – see below
  • An explanation of the Terms of Reference (PDF)
  • Website of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Statement by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Government Formally Establishes Royal Commission

On my advice, today the Governor-General has appointed a six member Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Child sexual abuse is an evil crime.

Anyone who has ever suffered child abuse deserves to have their voices heard and their claims investigated.

The Royal Commission will inquire into how institutions with a responsibility for children have managed and responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse and related matters.

It will investigate where systems have failed to protect children, and make recommendations on how to improve laws, policies and practices to prevent and better respond to child sexual abuse in institutions. [Read more…]


Jenny Macklin: I Could Live On The Dole

This is a video clip showing Families Minister Jenny Macklin saying that she could live on the $35 a day Newstart allowance.

Macklin’s office released a transcript of her media conference which depicted the question and answer as inaudible.

  • Jan 2: Listen to Acting Greens leader Adam Bandt comment on living on the dole (9m)

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  • Jan 2: Listen to Cassandra Goldie from Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) comment (3m)

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Transcript of Jenny Macklin’s media conference in Melbourne, as released by the minister’s office.

Dad and Partner Pay, family payments, parenting payment

JENNY MACKLIN: Thanks everyone for coming to The Mercy today, happy New Year to everyone. First of all I’d like to thank everybody here at The Mercy for having us here today and for the family so kindly allowed us to meet their new born baby – just born at 7am this morning – so to Esther and Anthony and their little boy Cooper and baby Lucas, congratulations, it’s really, really wonderful to see a new member of their family. [Read more…]


Gillard And O’Farrell Reach Agreement On NDIS Funding In N.S.W.

The Federal and New South Wales governments have reached an agreement that will allow for the full roll out of a National Disability Insurance Scheme in NSW by July 2018.

Gillard-O'Farrell

Speaking at a joint press conference today, Prime Minister Gillard and Premier Barry O’Farrell announced that the Commonwealth will provide $3.2 billion in 2018, 51.4% of the funding needed. NSW will provide $3.32 billion.

The agreement will provide care to around 140,000 NSW residents with significant disability.

  • Listen to the Gillard-O’Farrell press conference (18m)

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Text of a media release from Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Agreement For Full Roll Out Of National Disability Insurance Scheme In NSW By July 2018

The Australian and New South Wales governments have today reached an historic agreement that will allow for the full roll out of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in New South Wales by July 2018.

The agreement will provide care and support to around 140,000 NSW residents with significant disability, and provide coverage in the event of disability to around one third of the Australian population.

It will provide peace of mind to people with a disability, their families and carers, and to the Australians who will unexpectedly face misfortune in the future.

It will give people with disability choice and control over the care and support they receive, rather than exposing them to the cruel lottery that currently exists, where care depends on a range of unpredictable factors.

Under the agreement reached today:

  • The Commonwealth will provide funding of $3.32 billion in 2018 – 51.4 per cent of the funding needed. This will cover the administration of the scheme and contribute to the cost of individual care and support packages and other supports for people with disability, their carers and their families.
  • New South Wales will provide more than $3.13 billion in 2018 – 48.6 per cent of the funding needed. This will contribute to the cost of individual packages and other supports for people with disability, their carers and their families.
  • The full scheme costs will be reviewed by the Productivity Commission in 2018-19 to inform COAG agreement on final scheme funding arrangements.

Today’s agreement builds on the agreement to launch in the Hunter region of NSW from the middle of next-year. Other eligible New South Wales residents will start entering the scheme in 2016, and by July 2018, all eligible residents will be covered by the NDIS. [Read more…]


Macklin Announces NDIS Trial For NSW Hunter Region

The Commonwealth and NSW governments have reached agreement for a trial of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in the Hunter region next year.

Jenny Macklin

The decision was announced today by the Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin, and her counterpart, the NSW Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance.

The Hunter trial arises out of the backdown by the NSW and Victorian governments last week.

The announcement today was overshadowed by the media’s coverage of Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan’s speech on Bruce Springsteen and Labor values.

  • Listen to Wayne Swan and Jenny Macklin announce the NDIS Hunter trial (12m)

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Joint media release from the federal Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin, and the NSW Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance.

Launching a National Disability Insurance Scheme in the Hunter

People with significant and profound disabilities in the Hunter region of NSW are set to benefit from a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) next year, after the Australian and NSW Governments today reached an agreement on arrangements for the Hunter launch site.

From next year about 10,000 people with significant and profound disabilities, their families and carers in the Hunter will have their needs assessed and will start to receive individual care and support packages. [Read more…]


Gillard Questioned Again About Leadership

Julia Gillard’s leadership is under persistent media questioning, just three months after her crushing defeat of Kevin Rudd in a caucus ballot.

Julia GillardAppearing in Canberra today to promote carbon pricing compensation and assistance for pensioners, Gillard faced media questions about her leadership in the light of reports that the government Whip, Joel Fitzgibbon, is promoting a leadership change to Kevin Rudd.

She was also questioned about Cabinet divisions over immigrant workers for the mining industry. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has announced a scheme of Enterprise Migration Agreements for a Gina Hancock mining project. The scheme has been attacked by union officials such as Paul Howes who has been dealing with retrenchments in the aluminium and manufacturing industries.

The leadership questions came at the end of a week dominated by Craig Thomson’s statement to the House of Representatives on Monday and his plea to the media that “enough is enough” on Thursday.

Parliament meets again this week in an atmosphere of despair for the Labor caucus.

  • Listen to Gillard and Macklin:

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Transcript of Julia Gillard and Jenny Macklin media conference in Canberra.

Gillard: A big, big thank you to Gesima for having us here today. I’m joined by Jenny Macklin and also by Andrew Leigh, the Member for Fraser, and we have been able to talk this morning over a cup of tea about how difficult it can be for pensioners to make ends meet.

We are here today talking to people about how they can make ends meet and some new assistance that’s coming to help Australian pensioners. From tomorrow, pensioners will see more money in their bank accounts. 3.2 million pensioners will see more money arrive in their bank accounts over coming weeks. [Read more…]


Gillard Backs Down On Poker Machine Reforms

The Gillard government has announced a year-long “large scale trial” of mandatory pre-commitment technology for poker machines in the ACT from February next year. The trial will last beyond the next election.

Gillard and Macklin announce the government's pokies backdown

The government says it will “expand pre-commitment technology to every poker machine across the country, that could then be used for mandatory pre-commitment if it is supported by a trial”.

The Cabinet decision, announced in Melbourne today, represents a cave-in by the government and a victory for the clubs industry and nervous Labor backbenchers.

The decision breaks a deal with Andrew Wilkie and could result in the independent member for Denison withdrawing his support for the government. The post-election agreement Wilkie made with Julia Gillard stipulated legislation of mandatory pre-commitment before this year’s May Budget.

  • Listen to Julia Gillard and Jenny Macklin at their press conference (26m):

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  • Download PDF government statements on problem gambling:

This is the text of a government statement:

Tackling Problem Gambling in Australia

The Gillard Government today announced its plan to tackle problem gambling, helping the five million Australians affected by problem gambling in this country.

This plan means the Gillard Government will do more to tackle problem gambling than any Commonwealth Government in Australia’s history.

The Government will act to:

  • Undertake a large scale trial of mandatory pre-commitment;
  • Expand pre-commitment technology to every poker machine across the country, that could then be used for mandatory pre-commitment if it is supported by a trial.

Rolling the technology out to every machine now ensures that we will be ready to flick the switch to a best-practice mandatory pre-commitment system, if the trial results support it.

We believe this evidence-based pathway to help problem gamblers and their families will gain the necessary support to pass the current Parliament.

It is our intention to introduce legislation in the first Parliamentary session of this year which will require that:

  • All new poker machines manufactured from 2013 must be capable of supporting pre-commitment; and
  • By 31 December 2016 all poker machines must be part of a state linked pre-commitment system, except eligible small venues which will have longer.

We will also continue to work on pre-commitment technology through the COAG Select Council on Gaming Reform. At this forum in May last year, state and territory gaming ministers agreed to support the required infrastructure for pre-commitment technology in all jurisdictions.

The Gillard Government understands that many Australians enjoy gambling responsibly. But for others it can have devastating consequences.

Problem gambling ruins lives.

That’s why in November 2008 we asked the Productivity Commission to inquire into problem gambling in Australia.

The Productivity Commission found that problem gambling affects up to five million Australians, including friends, family and employers of people with a gambling problem.

These far reaching impacts are why the Australian Government is delivering genuine, long-lasting reforms to help problem gamblers and their families.

The Government is also taking a range of other actions to support problem gamblers and their families including:

  • Introducing a $250 daily withdrawal limit from ATMs in gaming venues (excluding casinos) by 1 February 2013;
  • Electronic warnings and cost of play displays on poker machines by 2016;
  • Additional counselling support with 50 new financial counsellors to work with problem gamblers, and expanding the reach of Gambling Help Online;
  • Strengthening self-exclusion arrangements; and
  • Improving training for staff in pokies venues.

Further, the Government recognises that gambling online and sports betting are a growing concern, and we will:

  • Ban the promotion of live odds during sports coverage;
  • Extend pre-commitment to online betting services;
  • Crack down on online sports betting companies offering credit and introduce stricter limits on betting inducements; and
  • Increase the powers of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to enforce these new rules.

The actions the Gillard Government is taking will be the most significant and far reaching national reforms to tackle problem gambling ever seen in this country.


Carbon Tax Legislation Becomes Law

Royal Assent has been given to the Gillard government’s Clean Energy Future legislation.

The legislation, a package of 21 bills, introduces a carbon tax and associated measures.

Text of media release from Treasurer Wayne Swan, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, and Families Minister Jenny Macklin:

Clean Energy Reforms Receive Royal Assent

The Gillard Government welcome the Royal Assent of a further 21 bills of the Clean Energy Future Legislative Package and the proclamation of their commencement dates.

The completion of this process means that the Government has the central legislative pieces in place to deliver a clean energy future for Australia.

The Clean Energy Act 2011, Clean Energy (Household Assistance Amendments) Act 2011, Steel Transformation Plan Act 2011 and Australian Renewable Energy Agency Act 2011 and 17 related bills have all now received Royal Assent. [Read more…]