Senate debates

Thursday, 12 August 2021


Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Child Care Subsidy) Bill 2021; In Committee

10:56 am

Photo of Mehreen FaruqiMehreen Faruqi (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

[by video link] I move the Greens request for an amendment (1) on sheet 1353:

(1) Clause 2, page 2 (table items 2 to 4), omit the table items, substitute:

This request for an amendment is very simple. It brings forward the start date of the package by one year to 1 July 2021. As I foreshadowed in my speech on the second reading, families need more support, and they need it urgently. During the debate on this bill, so many senators on this side of the chamber highlighted the issues with child care: how expensive it is and how difficult it is for families. There is no good reason why the government couldn't prioritise getting more money into the pockets of families who continue to be slugged with some of the highest childcare fees in the world. It is the government's responsibility to do that, not to say 'We will if we can.' It's in your control, if it is a priority for you—and it should be a priority for you.

Over the last 18 months we have seen the rules rewritten and entire government spending programs recalibrated or conjured out of nothing as the pandemic has demanded swift and substantial policy responses. In that light, it seems completely ridiculous to suggest that more than a full year is required in order to enact these changes through the existing government systems. We know that the government has said that it would like to start the scheme as soon as possible. Well, it's up to you to start it as soon as possible. It's up to you to start it now. If that is indeed the case, it's time to get a clear commitment.

Also, it's pretty bloody rich for Labor to stand here and say, 'This is a Greens stunt.' If the Senate agrees to this amendment today, it is going to send a very clear and very strong message to the government to make this change. That's what we're here for. This is not a stunt, Senator Pratt. This is actually trying to fix a problem that families and children and women have had for a very long time. I call on Labor and the crossbench senators: if you want to support childcare workers and educators, if you want to support families, women and children, then at least agree to this Greens amendment which will provide that support, however modest it might be.


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