Monday, 23 June 2014
Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Child Care Measures) Bill 2014; In Committee
Mr Chairman, the opposition opposes item 2 in schedule 1 in the following terms:
(1) Schedule I, item 2, page 3 (lines 7 to 13), to be opposed.
The amendment will have the effect of splitting the bill and I understand the government agrees to the amendment. I have explained our arguments in the second reading stage of this bill and, as a consequence, I do not think we need to prolong discussion any further.
I want to make clear the Greens' position on this amendment put forward by the opposition. As I outlined in my second reading speech, we obviously do not support the freezing of the indexation that impacts on the income levels because it will push childcare costs up for families that are currently accessing the Child Care Benefit. But we are extremely disappointed to see both the Labor Party and the coalition working to effectively tick through the continued freeze on the Child Care Rebate as a result of this amendment. It is a little frustrating to have sat and listened to the speeches for the last hour and a half as to how concerned people are about the increase of fees and costs of child care only then to see the opposition tick through half of them. They seem to be saying: 'Oh, well, we'll stop the benefit, but we'll tick through the freezing of the rebate.' This is going to affect over 100,000 families. It is going to push up prices—and as we know, childcare fees are rising; over the last decade they have risen by over 150 per cent—and, because they are rising each year at a faster rate even than CPI, over the next financial year, the one after, and the one after that—over the forward estimates—parents are going to start to hit the $7,500 cap much faster. We know that this is already happening, with parents getting to the second half of the financial year and having already hit that rebate cap. They are having to withdraw their children from the last few months of child care for the financial year—because they simply cannot afford to be paying those fees without any rebate coming back to them. So it is extremely disappointing to see both of the major parties in this place, despite all of the hoo-ha about the cost of child care, now working together—colluding—to effectively push up prices and to make things even more difficult for those families who need access to the childcare rebate.
This bill should have just been voted down in its entirety. There is nothing good about this piece of legislation. This is a cost-saving measure by a government who, rather than raising revenue in places where it could come from—the big miners, the big banks—and ensuring that people pay their fair share of tax, are instead cost shifting to families. The bill should have been voted down entirely; it is interesting to see how both sides in this place will now work together to allow a massive hit on household budgets. It is extremely disappointing.