Minister Rishworth interviewed on the Today show


Topics: Floods in Victoria, the Budget, Paid Parental Leave and Carer Gateway 

JAYNE AZZOPARDI, HOST: In less than ten days, the Albanese Government will unveil its first budget and already an additional cost of living relief has been ruled out. Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers warning Australians are in for a bumpy ride with inflation to remain high well into the new year. For more, I'm joined now by Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth in Adelaide. Good morning to you, Amanda. We'll get to the Budget in a moment. But first I want to ask you about the flood situation in Victoria. What support is the Government offering?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: This is a really difficult circumstance and my thoughts are with all of those. We stand ready to partner with the Victorian Government and we have been continuing to do that. There is support across the country as a disaster is managed with disaster relief payments. So there is a range of support the Commonwealth will be providing across the country. But at this point I think the critical message is to make sure that people in these situations are taking heed of the warnings, not driving through water and making sure they keep abreast of all relevant information.

JAYNE AZZOPARDI: Absolutely. Let's move on to the budget now. The Treasurer is putting the final touches on it. We know he's ruled out any extra relief for cost of living, although the tax cuts are likely to stay. Things aren't getting cheaper though, don't you think people need help now?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: It is a very difficult situation that families are facing. We've got rising interest rates and rising inflation, but we've also got a very difficult budget situation. We've been left with more than a trillian dollars of debt by the former government. And so we need to take a responsible approach. There will be measures that will be accommodated in the budget that we took to the election, whether that be our cheaper medicines or cheaper childcare. They do have a real impact on people, but we have to be responsible at the same time. And that is the balance that the Treasurer is and the Government is striving to make.

JAYNE AZZOPARDI: We heard an announcement yesterday on paid parental leave increasing to 26 weeks, but it's not going to happen for another four years. Why aren't you doing that sooner?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Firstly, we are bringing in structural changes to pay parental leave at this budget, which will involve more flexibility, involves an element of shared care and also a two income test, as opposed to one allow families once again for that more flexibility. From the 1st of July 2024, we will start the increase in paid parental leave by two weeks and continue until we reach the 26 weeks. We're also going to get the Women's Economic Task Force to look at how we best split up that 26 weeks to promote shared care. One of the key things coming out of the Jobs and Skills Summit is that all the caring responsibilities shouldn't fall on the primary care giver, which is usually mum. So we're looking at how we make sure that we're promoting shared care when it comes to our paid parental leave. We need to consult on that, but what this shows is a clear commitment to get there and exactly how we're going to get there. And I think that could reassure and give comfort to many Australians that we're addressing this really important issue.

JAYNE AZZOPARDI: Do you know how much it's going to cost?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: The budget will reveal all the elements of cost in all our programmes But as I said, we're taking a responsible staged approach to this to increase paid parental leave so that we can get to that 26 weeks. That's six months, which is critically important.

JAYNE AZZOPARDI: Now, I know you want to talk about National Carers Week, that starts tomorrow. And the Government is today announcing a new campaign

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Yes, carers and we're talking unpaid carers here. It might be surprising, there's actually 2.6 million unpaid carers across Australia and what they do is some remarkable work. They look after loved ones, they support older parents they do an amazing job. And what we want to make sure is they are getting the help that they need. One thing we do know from a lot of researchers that often carers don't identify themselves as carers and they don't put themselves first in knowing where to go for help. So we're encouraging people through this campaign to celebrate the great work that carers do, to recognise some of the challenges and importantly point them where they can get help and support. We know a lot, not a lot of carers are actually getting that support. So we want to increase the number of carers being able to access that support.

JAYNE AZZOPARDI: All right, we will all look out for that campaign. Minister, thank you for your time.