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Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Page: 11000

Budget


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:30): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer rule out using funds from the budget to pay a multibillion dollar wage subsidy for workers in the childcare sector who are not even employees of the Commonwealth?


Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:31): As I was indicating before, I do not rule anything in or out when it comes to budgets. That is the consistent approach of this government as it was the consistent approach of the previous government. I am delighted that the member has actually asked this question because I think everybody on this side of the House understands the importance of the early years agenda when it comes to education. We get education across the board. We understand that the early years are vital, and a good start in the early years of education is something on which you can build in the years of primary school and secondary school right through to tertiary education. The best possible start in life is absolutely critical in the early years. We back that up with a suite of policies, particularly from the department of families, which assist families with the early years. We understand the importance of early intervention strategies, particularly in those disadvantaged families around the country.

Mr Hockey: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Treasurer has already ruled in and ruled out a number of features of the upcoming MYEFO. I asked a very specific question: will he rule out a multibillion dollar subsidy for workers who are not employed by the Commonwealth?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member for North Sydney will resume his seat. The Treasurer has the call and will refer to the question before the chair.

Mr SWAN: As I indicated at the beginning, Madam Deputy Speaker, I do not rule anything in or out in the lead-up to a mid-year statement or to a budget. That was the question, and the question was also about the importance of the early years, which we take very, very seriously.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SWAN: Okay, they do not take it very, very seriously, so I will not talk about it.






Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:32): Madam Deputy Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. In light of the failure of the Treasurer to rule out paying workers in this way, why should taxpayers pay billions of dollars a year in wage subsidies rather than the childcare workers making a claim in the usual way through Fair Work Australia?


Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:33): Everybody on this side of the House is very enthusiastic about the early years agenda. We are proud of what we have done in child care. We understand how important it is that childcare workers are well paid. We understand how important it is that there is a career for childcare workers. We understand all of those things that are apparently not understood on that side of the House.