Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. On 2 April the Prime Minister said: 'I don't want a parent to have to choose between feeding their kids and having their kids looked after.' But, according to today's West Australian, that is exactly what is happening. Why is the Prime Minister hurting Australian families by snapping back childcare arrangements in the middle of Australia's first recession in three decades?
I thank the member for her question. Once again, on behalf of all the House, I thank those early childhood educators who have provided care throughout the pandemic. Ninety-nine per cent of all service providers have remained open during the pandemic, providing care for essential service workers and also for vulnerable children. The system that we put in place when demand was collapsing did exactly what it was designed to do, and that was to make sure that care could be provided during the pandemic. Now, as we've seen demand increase—and that demand has increased to 74 per cent—we are going back to the old childcare system that we put in place nearly two years ago. It is just worth noting—and the facts sometimes get in the way when it comes to the other side—that, at the moment, out-of-pocket expenses are 3.2 per cent below where they were nearly two years ago when we introduced our childcare system.
Ms Rishworth interjecting—
Well, that's a blessing, Mr Speaker. Out-of-pocket expenses are 3.2 per cent below where they were when we introduced the childcare reforms nearly two years ago. Everything that we have done in putting our new package in place has been done by consulting with the sector. We said to the sector: 'What is it that you think we need to do, because, as demand is increasing, you're asking us to be able to allow you to meet that demand.' One of the key things was that they said they wanted to see changes to the activity test, and that is exactly what we have done. They also said that they wanted to make sure that they could continue to provide support for the childcare workers in the sector, and that is exactly what we have done through a $708 million transition fund. What we said to the sector was: 'We want an employment guarantee to come with that.' And that is exactly what they've delivered.
So I thank the sector again for the way in which they have provided care throughout the coronavirus pandemic. If you look across the globe, the sector has been an absolute stand-out, and that is why we want to support it as demand increases. (Time expired)