3BA WITH BRETT MACDONALD
FRIDAY, 9 OCTOBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Budget; Budget Reply; JobKeeper; National Rail Manufacturing Plan; childcare; transmission lines; Morrison Government debt; Women left behind.
BRETT MACDONALD, HOST: Good morning Catherine.
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Good morning Brett, good to be with you.
MACDONALD: Nice to have you on the show. It must be a week like no other in Canberra, Budget Week?
KING: It’s always pretty busy but a lot later this year. Obviously, we normally have it in May, but October this is time because of COVID-19. It is always a very frantic week in the capital.
MACDONALD: Catherine, I’ve seen a few female supporter groups come out and say it was just a blokes budget, do you think it was?
KING: Well there’s a lot of credible women out there saying that, and I think the Prime Minister has been pretty defensive about it, but that’s the reality. I don’t think they really understood the impact on women, on low income families across the community, and I think it’s been a real missed opportunity to spend a trillion dollars and not tackle childcare, not try and look at social housing and how you could not improve and leave a legacy behind in spending this amount of money.
MACDONALD: Catherine, last time I had you on the show, I think the word we were desperately trying to get to the PM was to continue the JobKeeper threshold, keep it in that same dollar amount. That didn’t happen, so the squeaky wheel syndrome just doesn’t work?
KING: Well, I think just not listening, I think that’s the problem. Or understanding what’s happening Victoria or regional Victoria with JobKeeper being cut and it’s due to be abolished in March. They’ve then been put in place a wage subsidy program, but only for people under the age of 35. And again, I just can’t say how that’s going to help any workers over the age of 35, who potentially will really struggle to get back into the workforce. It is important that we support young people, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of older workers either, you should be able to do both.
MACDONALD: Catherine, Mr. Albanese came out last night and said he wants to tie any investment into Aussie jobs. And your example there might be rail, because we learned I think it’s Melbourne’s Metro trains are being built in China.
KING: Well, that’s exactly right. I guess what we’ve seen across the board, in states and territories is this huge investment in rail, really massive uptake in public transport, but there’s been a real demise in our rail manufacturing many. Many states do get the carcasses of trains from overseas because we just stopped making them in Australia and we want to change that, we want to actually be able to make trains from word go here in Australia and keep those jobs in these fantastic railway workshops we’ve got across the country, many that have been operating for 150 years.
MACDONALD: Catherine King, another big spend that Albo announced last night was to modernise the power grid. And again, something that could impact us here in Ballarat as we look at that transmission line project, which is a little controversial at the moment, but $20 billion for that, that’s an eye watering amount of money.
KING: Well, one of the problems is that the Australian Energy Market Operator has identified that the Australian national energy grid, basically the poles and wires, is not fit for purpose. We’ve not had any real investment since the 1970s. So what you’ve got them going around doing is project by project and no proper planning right the way across the country as to how this grid needs to be upgraded and how you can get that investment, which is off budget, that modernises the energy grid and puts that investment in properly. Most of these power poles and wires are owned by monopoly providers and it’s not in their interest to modernise them and to actually upgrade the grid. So this is sort of low hanging fruit to really try and make sure there is a proper national program, a proper national process that actually allows this grid to be upgraded in a way that is good for renewable energy, but also assists communities as we’re going through that process.
MACDONALD: I’m speaking to Catherine King this morning, the Federal Member for Ballarat. Catherine, one of the headline grabbers from Albo in the news this morning was the $6 billion for childcare. I think that could save families around three grand a week that seems to have been widely welcomed. Three grand a year, I should say.
KING: That would be a lot, three grand a week!
MACDONALD: You would be getting paid to send your kids there!
KING: Some people are paying substantial amounts to take their kids to childcare and there’s some real disincentives in the system and that’s what we’re trying to address through this package for people to actually work extra days and work extra hours. It’s not just for childcare centres, but also for out of school hours care as well, so for older kids in primary school, who also need to use before and after school hours care. It’s really trying to assist families and generally, it’s women in particular, who are the sort of second worker in a family to actually be able to increase their hours or keep their connection with their workplace.
MACDONALD: Catherine, we’re talking about some big numbers this morning, $20 billion for the power grid, $6 billion for childcare, Senator Hume has come out and said, how are you going to pay this? I have just got 10 seconds of audio from the Senator; this is what she had to say.
JANE HUME GRAB: Spending isn’t a bottomless pit. It has to be effective spending and that’s the one thing that Anthony Albanese didn’t tell us tonight, is where is the money coming from?
MACDONALD: Do you know where the money’s coming from?
KING: Yeah, we certainly do and we will detail all our costed policies before the election. But this is pretty rich from a government that bagged Labor for racking up debt and deficit of a small amount, compared to $1 trillion. They called our debt a national crisis, a debt disaster. yet somehow a trillion dollars is not. I think they need to be accountable for where the money is coming from and I think it’s pretty amazing that they’ve managed to spend a trillion dollars without any effective outcome, leaving workers over the age of 35 and not addressing issues of childcare.
MACDONALD: Thanks for your time today.
KING: Great to talk to you Brett.
CATHERINE KING – TRANSCRIPT – RADIO INTERVIEW – 3BA – FRIDAY, 9 OCTOBER 2020