House debates

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Questions without Notice

Child Care

2:23 pm

Photo of Kate ThwaitesKate Thwaites (Jagajaga, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Early Childhood Education. How will the Albanese Labor government's cheaper childcare plan improve access to affordable, early childhood education and care and ease cost-of-living pressures?

Photo of Anne AlyAnne Aly (Cowan, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Early Childhood Education) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Jagajaga for her question. I know that the member has a very strong focus on cost-of-living pressures for families in Jagajaga and a very strong interest in early childhood education. And rightly so, because early childhood education and care plays a vital role in supporting families and improves the education and wellbeing outcomes for Australian children. Boosting access to early childhood education and care ensures that more children are able to access the benefits of foundational learning during those most formative years, preparing them for a life of exploration and learning.

This morning, I had the absolute pleasure of visiting MOCCA childcare centre in Manuka with the member for Canberra, Alicia Payne, and with the Minister for Education, Jason Clare. We got to meet some of the most adorable little children you will ever meet in your life, like little Amara and little Anna. We got to see for ourselves and watch these children as they learnt through play, which is what early childhood education is all about.

We also got to speak to parents like Sam, Anna's dad, who told us how the cost of early childhood education is putting that early childhood education, that vital education in those early years, out of reach for a lot of parents and is acting as a disincentive for primary caregivers, who are mostly women, to take on more hours of work if they want to or to get back to work if they want to.

That is why the Labor government took to the election a plan for cheaper child care and why today we have acted on our election commitment and introduced a bill in parliament to reduce out-of-pocket costs for parents for early childhood education and care. This reform will benefit over a million families across Australia—over a million families in electorates like Jagajaga and Cowan—right across every state and territory in this country. A part of our commitment is to address the cost of living and make early childhood education and care more accessible and affordable, and we will be tasking the ACCC with looking at pricing.

These reforms are not just about affordability; they're about our most precious asset, our children, and providing our children with the care and the education that they need in their formative years to set them up for life.