Wednesday, 23 November 2022
Questions without Notice
Early Childhood Education
I thank the outstanding member for Hawke for his question. The member for Hawke is a parent to three young children, and I understand the youngest is just 10 weeks old. As a parent I know that he understands full well those first five years and just how critical they are to a child's development.
But let me say what an incredible day it is to be on this side of the House. Two years ago our Prime Minister stood firm on our commitment to families and children to make early childhood education more affordable. We took our commitments to the election, and today we made it a reality. Today we delivered. From July next year over 1.2 families right across Australia will be better off because of our reforms, not only reducing the cost of early learning but also allowing primary care givers, primarily women, the opportunity to make the choice to return to work, to take on additional hours or to further their study, as I did.
Our policy will unlock up to 37,000 full-time paid workers for our economy in the first year alone. No longer will parents lose between 80 and 100 per cent of their take-home pay simply for working a fourth or a fifth day. That's money back in their pockets, money back in household budgets and money back in the economy. What a stark contrast to those opposite, who allowed fees for centre-based care to increase by a whopping 41 per cent under their watch, putting early childhood education out of reach for many families—oh, it's the 'league of extraordinary men', standing up—
Yes, on relevance: it was a tightly drafted question. You have in previous question times directed a minister back to the question when the minister has strayed into the record of the previous government. There was no reference to the previous government.
The question was about why our reforms are important to the economy, and it is quite relevant to point out that for households a 41 per cent increase in the cost of early childhood education does impact their budgets, and it does impact the economy. That is why our reforms are important to the economy.
This policy is game changing for the economy. It will impact two generations at the same time, boosting productivity and participation in work and ensuring that our children get the highest-quality early childhood education that they deserve. Our government values children. We value women's workforce participation. And we have worked from day one to make this massive economic reform a reality. We will never be deterred by negativity from those opposite. We'll continue on the path of making early childhood education more affordable and accessible. It is indeed a great day to be on this side of the House.