SUBJECT/S: Polls; Labor’s Child Care Announcement.

HOST: Joining us now is the Shadow Minister for Finance, Tony Burke.

Good morning to you.


HOST: Good result for Labor in this poll. Welcome boost for you and the troops?

BURKE: That’s right, but we've still got a way to go. It's also the case we start 20 seats behind. Malcolm Turnbull has a 20-seat head start after all. But the poll that was interesting, was the one in his own seat. In his own electorate he was more popular with Tony Abbott as leader than he is now.

I think there’s a lot of disappointment in the Government and out there with Malcolm Turnbull. We've got plenty of time to go. With the Muhammad Ali quote I guess: ‘‘Don’t count the days; make the days count.’’

HOST: Exactly. If the polls are right, though, it will be tight. Potentially a hung parliament. Will Labor do deals with Greens or with Nick Xenophon’s party if that’s what it takes to get into power?

BURKE: We've ruled out those deals from the start. We are campaigning to be able to govern in our own right. That's what we're there for and we’ve flatly ruled out any Coalition deals.

HOST: If it comes down to it, whether you’ll get power doing a deal with another party, you won't take power with a deal?

BURKE: Ruled out completely.

HOST: All right. We'll see that if it happens. Child care is a huge issue. We've had a panel of mums on the show yesterday. Politicians talking about the common thread that child care is a major concern. Labor will be announcing its policy today. What shall we expect?

BURKE: That's right. I think it's been interesting, in this debate, all this election, we've had people talking about productivity and economic growth, but the Government's been willing to put this issue off for another two years.

Any child who was born when the Government first announced they were going to do something about child care will be in school by the time their policy comes in. We're not willing to wait. So we’d bring it all forward to 1 January.

For the people who are reliant on the Child Care Benefit, that increases by 15 per cent. That means for low to middle income earners up to $30-a-week improvement for them.

On the Child Care Rebate, once people hit the rebate cap childcare fees effectively double for them. Some people get two-thirds of the way through the year and they’re suddenly hit with it. So we’ll shift the cap from $7,500 to $10,000.

What does that mean? It means people who want to work, primarily women, but not exclusively women, people who want to work but current problems with child care are preventing them find a way back in to the workforce. A way that's flexible with quality child care.

HOST: What about high-income earners? The means testing for high-income earners for the rebate is brought in by the Government for their policy. Why not make people who can afford to pay fork out?

BURKE: I think the problem with what the Government is proposing, is there's a whole lot of winners and whole lot of losers and they've never been able to explain who wins and who loses and exactly how it world work.

What we've done is use the same amount of money they had and said we just can't keep putting this off. People are facing problems right now and we'll make the changes from 1 January to the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate. The outcome of that is people who currently want to be in the workforce and can't be will find a way back in

HOST: In terms of affordability, what are you going to cut to afford this?

BURKE: The cost is exactly the same as the Government’s over the four years. There’s a number of expenditure items the Government’s wanted to go down where we’ve said, ‘No, the country can't afford that’.

We’ve said we can't afford the reintroduction of the Baby Bonus. Australia can't afford it at the moment even though the Government wants to do it. We’ve certainly said we can't afford the $50 billion tax giveaway to big business they want to provide. So when you make those sorts of choices, it allows you to make sure these sorts of commitments can be funded.

HOST: We'll see what impact it has on voters. 

Tony Burke, thank you for your time this morning.

BURKE: Good to be back.

Tony Burke