Thursday, 14 November 2019
The Morrison government is committed to quality, affordable child care. That's why we're providing record funding of $8.6 billion in 2019-20, rising to $9.9 billion in 2022-23. Our once-in-a-generation reforms have delivered a 5.6 per cent reduction in out-of-pocket costs to parents since our package was introduced. The new childcare package is providing more access and more financial support for those who need it most. Around one million Australian families who are balancing work and parental responsibilities are benefiting from the package. Seventy-five per cent pay no more than $50 per day in day care centres, and 25 per cent pay no more than $20 a day. The new childcare package represents the most significant reforms to early childhood education and the care system in 40 years.
I agree with Senator Duniam. This section of the program is for business motions that are not to be debated, but one-minute statements have been agreed to to allow an indication of voting intention, particularly in the case when you will not call a division. That is the reason for the one-minute statements. We have been giving leave for one-minute statements where the statement is used to debate the substance of the motion or where the mover of the motion is explaining why they've moved the motion, when that's covered off in the actual moving of the motion. If everyone has one minute to explain something about a particular motion, you don't get through the program. Historically, these motions have been placed here because they are noncontroversial and they don't require debate. If we need to have further discussion, let us have further discussion. This part of the program is becoming unworkable.
This again is a remodification, without any consultation, of the approach that has been taken. Senator Faruqi was seeking leave to make a short statement to explain our position on this, and leave was then about to be granted to Senator Hanson—because Senator Duniam asked if she was going to oppose it. They'll also express their position by the way that they vote, so there is a clear partisan approach being taken to this. Rules are being made up on the run. That's what's happening here—rules are being made up on the run. Make it consistent. That means we'll be denying leave whenever the government wants to make a short statement and also be calling for a division.
I'll make an observation now. My opinion is well-known on the conduct of this section and its impact on the dignity of the chamber. There are no rules about granting leave. Any senator has the discretion to deny leave. It has nothing to do with the rules of the Senate. If informal understandings are reached outside of here, through cross-whips meetings and other meetings, they are for individual senators to follow or not follow.
On this point I make the observation that I think the difference has arisen through a lack of understanding about what one-minute statements are for. Some people are of the view that they are for explaining a position and other people are of the view that they are effectively for a bit more aggressive debating of a position—it being a constrained debate as opposed to an explanation. I appreciate that that is subtle. My impression from this position is that there needs to be a discussion at the cross-whips meeting about the nature of the one-minute statements, and that will avoid the misunderstandings that we are having now and the impression of some that the rules are being applied unfairly. That is my observation. If one looks at the nature of the contributions, some get into explaining a position and some then get into criticising other parties for their position. I do think that is a subtle difference that the whips can sort out at other meetings, and then we'll avoid this happening again and again.
I'm going to call Senator Faruqi, who did request leave to make a short statement, and I'm going to ask again whether leave is granted for her to make a short statement. Then I will come to Senator Hanson. Is leave granted for Senator Faruqi to make a short statement? Leave is granted for one minute.
Thank you, Mr President. Early childhood education and care play an important role in children's development and do support families with young children. It doesn't matter what you earn, where you live and how much you work or study, your child should get the education and care that they need. Universal access to early childhood education should be extended to all three-year-olds and four-year-olds on an ongoing basis. Every child everywhere in the country should have optional access to 24 hours a week of a quality play-based learning program, staffed by qualified professionals and resourced to give the best possible start in life. We support educators and their unions to achieve professional pay and better working conditions. The Greens support this motion.