Senate debates

Tuesday, 10 August 2021


Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Child Care Subsidy) Bill 2021; Second Reading

6:35 pm

Photo of Hollie HughesHollie Hughes (NSW, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Child Care Subsidy) Bill 2021. I want to make one thing very, very clear from the outset: this is not a women's issue. Whilst, yes, it's a family issue—a personal family issue of how they want to run their households, their lives and their working lives—most importantly it is an economic issue. We on this side of the chamber, the Morrison government, want to ensure that we get the best economic outcomes across the board. It is a concept that's evidently beyond the grasp of the Greens, judging from their contributions in this debate—and, to be fair, pretty much every debate. Senator Faruqi seemed to declare a formal power-sharing agreement with those opposite, something I've no doubt will send shivers up the spine of my friend the member for Hunter, Mr Fitzgibbon. But we can save that for another day.

I also note that earlier in the debate Senator Pratt was a bit upset about an internal debate within the coalition government. I appreciate that internal debate, a discussion of ideas, must be a very strange concept to those opposite, and perhaps even more surprising must be diversity of opinion. As Liberal women, we more than know that we're dismissed by those opposite, the so-called sisterhood, as nothing more than lapdogs to the men of our party, doing as we're told. We know it because when many of us on this side of the chamber receive derogatory and, unfortunately, often violent threats, which are publicly visible as they're usually transmitted over social media, what is it that we hear? Is it the cavalry? No. If it's coming to the defence of conservative women, that would be crickets we hear from those opposite, with a whispered, 'Well, they deserve it,' from the Caro-Wilkinson feminazis.

To come back to the legislation and to Senator Pratt's point, I really do enjoy the irony that the whole concept of independent thought is foreign to you and, in fact, banned by your bosses. We on this side have our own agency, the ability to stand up for what we believe in, and in fact we support all women—and men and families—who want to make choices as to how best they support their family life and work life. I know that to you guys on the other side of the chamber—through you, Madam Deputy President—the whole idea of personal choice and personal responsibility, the idea that not all families fit into the designated box of whatever union is currently pulling the opposition leader's strings, is anathema. Families come in all shapes and sizes—two parents, single parents, shared parents. Children can live mainly with mum; they can live with mum and dad; they can live mainly with dad. It's actually the women on this side of the chamber—outrageously!—who don't assume it's always dad who's the main breadwinner, with mum at home watching Bluey in her apron. Sometimes it's actually mum who's the main breadwinner. Sometimes mum has the bigger career. And sometimes, even once they become parents, both want to return to their careers. Some families, single-parent or not, don't have that choice. They're forced back to work for financial reasons. We need to support all of these families to best manage their lives, and we need to support most significantly those families who need the most support.

Child care needs to be more affordable. We're actively supporting families with more than one child to get back to work sooner, should they wish to, without losing any additional income to childcare payments. This childcare subsidy will benefit around 250,000 Australian families. Subsidy levels in some cases will increase from 30 per cent to 95 per cent, with 50 per cent of those families paying on average just $21 a day for two children in care. Tens of thousands of families are set to benefit from the removal of the annual cap on the childcare subsidy. This will make it fairer for all Australian families. The removal of the cap will remove any disincentive for families to remain working or to increase their workforce participation.

Why do we want to do it? Because we believe in supporting families. We support all families. We want parents to believe that they can have more children. I heard Senator O'Sullivan reference the Peter Costello quote: 'One for mum, one for dad and one for the country.' I have my three, and I have had a bit of a joke with Peter that I'm still asking where the one for the country should be sent, but, in truth, he's the light of my life, I love him dearly and I wouldn't send him anywhere.

We do want families back in the workforce and we do want to allow them to arrange the care that suits their families the best way they can, if that's what they want to do. We want to put money back into the pockets of these families—not unions and not the black armband curriculum brigade—because we know families can make better use of that funding and will be able to keep more income. We want to see children access quality early learning and care. We want it to be more affordable for families, and we want to make sure that all of that assistance is as targeted as it can be to ensure the families that require the most support receive that support.


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