Morrison links PPL to family package

EXCLUSIVE Andrew Probyn Federal Political Editor
New minister: Scott Morrison. Picture: Getty Images

Scott Morrison has flagged significant changes to Prime Minister Tony Abbott's "signature" paid parental leave scheme in a bid to win Senate approval.

In an interview with _The West Australian _, the new Social Services Minister said he would "fuse" the new-look PPL with improved childcare services as part of a families package.

This would be put before crossbenchers in the new year, with a view to securing a breakthrough deal before July 1.

"Connecting child care into this portfolio provides the opportunity to fuse those two policy issues to get a policy outcome," Mr Morrison said.

"I'm no ideologue when it comes to these issues.

"I'm interested in getting the outcome, which is salary replacement, particularly ensuring continuity of superannuation, and to ensure this is a sustainable outcome that leads to participation of parents in the workforce."

Mr Morrison's comments indicate he is willing to further reduce the maximum payout under the PPL, which currently has a proposed cap of $50,000 for six months leave and is part-funded by a 1.5 per cent levy on big business.

The Commission of Audit recommended lowering the wage replacement cap to average weekly earnings, or about $28,000 for 26 weeks, and for some of the money from the levy to go into an improved, means-tested single childcare payment with a base assistance of 50 per cent for all families.

One blockage to an expanded Federal PPL is Premier Colin Barnett's refusal to surrender oversight of the scheme for State public servants.

Mr Morrison said he would work through such details over the summer but confirmed that the States were "going to have to be stakeholders and partners".

He said he was committed to the National Disability Insurance Scheme but that its $10 billion annual cost had to be absorbed while keeping the system sustainable.

The social services sector has been hit with a $240 million funding cut in the past fortnight, including peak bodies representing the disabled, deaf, blind and homeless.

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations said groups representing 90 per cent of Australians with a disability and 83 per cent of identified disability groups may be forced to close within three months.

Among the groups affected are Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia, Blind Citizens Australia, Brain Injury Australia, Deaf Australia, Deafness Forum of Australia, Down Syndrome Australia, National Council on Intellectual Disability and Physical Disability Australia. Homeless organisations including National Shelter, Homelessness Australia and Community Housing Federation Australia have had their funding cut and contracts ended prematurely under measures in last week's mid-year Budget update.

Mr Morrison said the funding largely affected advocacy and not frontline services, nor did the funding cuts affect the national partnership agreement on homelessness, which is yet to be renegotiated with the States.

'I'm no ideologue when it comes to these issues. I'm interested in getting the outcome.'"Social Services Minister *Scott Morrison *