House debates

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Questions without Notice

Cost of Living

2:53 pm

Photo of Mike FreelanderMike Freelander (Macarthur, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Early Childhood Education. How is the Albanese Labor government delivering on its election commitments to make early childhood education more affordable and accessible for Australians to help 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 Macarthur for his question, and I acknowledge his lifelong commitment to children, as a paediatrician, and his strong advocacy for early childhood education here in this chamber. The member for Macarthur, like those on this side of the House, understands that many Australians are doing it tough right now, with cost of living increases right across the board. We are taking action to ease that pressure on Australian families.

Our early childhood education and care reforms tabled here in the parliament yesterday are the first step to delivering on our election commitment to make early childhood education and care more affordable. Our plan corrects years of inaction by those opposite, with fees for centre based care rising by 41 per cent in the last eight years alone. That high cost of early childhood education puts early childhood education beyond the reach of so many Australian families.

Our government wants Australian families to have choices and, particularly, women to have choices as they are, most often, the primary caregivers. But, at the same time, we believe that the main beneficiaries of our reforms will be children, ensuring that Australian children have greater access to the benefits of that really important foundational learning. Our reforms will mean that 1.2 million Australians right across every state and territory will benefit and that their children will be able to get more and better access to quality early childhood education and care.

We know that in making these reforms possible we need to undertake some really essential work to recruit, train and attract more high-quality early childhood educators to the sector. This is something that I'm deeply committed to. We are already acting on this. We are bringing forward fee-free TAFE places. We have university places to build that pipeline for more workers. We are committed to wage growth. You won't hear anyone here saying low wages are a central part of our economic strategy. That's why we successfully argued for a pay rise for the most low-paid workers. We are working to address the gender pay gap, as well as allowing the Fair Work Act to allow for multi-employer bargaining.

National Cabinet has recognised the importance of this work, and we are working with state and territory counterparts through the national children's education and care workforce strategy implementation and evaluation plan. This government has done in its first few months what its predecessors failed to do over eight years. I look forward to continuing this work with the sector and doing what they— (Time expired)