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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 1008

Ms HUSAR (Lindsay) (19:30): I rise to condemn this government for yet another round of calculated, cruel and callous cuts that the 'Trumble' leadership seeks to implement with its Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Child Care Reform)—but without the 'reform' bit—Bill 2017. These cuts are supported by the Liberals' new best friend, the One Nation Party, which has so far stood for wilful ignorance, fearmongering and pitting every Australian against another. These cuts amount to so much more than financial savagery. These cuts attack the fundamental fabric of this nation's spirit and character. These cuts are designed to hurt three million children, age pensioners, young people who cannot get secure employment and single parents—One Nation describes us as ugly and lazy. The only ugliness here is a government that would seek to remove support from those who need it most.

I would like to touch on just one of these cuts, which has been studied in depth by Deloitte Access Economics, and their report that states that these cuts disproportionately affect our Indigenous communities and, in particular, our Indigenous children. Today, in this House, at that dispatch box, the Closing the gap report was handed down by a seemingly sympathetic Prime Minister who was promising to do more. Well, at least the Prime Minister is aware that the gaps are there to be filled. I guess that is a good start. So, with the Deloitte report in the other hand, why would he lead a government that is charging ahead with these cuts?

I proudly represent Lindsay, within greater Western Sydney, which has the highest concentration of Indigenous people in Australia. The cuts for Indigenous children will see more than one in two families face an increase in their childcare costs of $4.40 per hour. However, for children in care for 15 hours per week, which is the government's policy, you would soon see that $4.40 per hour hurting a family budget. Forty per cent of Indigenous families will have their access to child care cut completely. Staggeringly, more than two-thirds of Indigenous childhood education services will have their funding cut altogether.

Last year, our shadow minister for early childhood education, the Hon. Kate Ellis; the member for Chifley, Ed Husic; and I visited the Yenu Allowah Aboriginal Child and Family Centre, located in Mount Druitt, next to my electorate of Lindsay. This centre is responsible for the first education of our first peoples. While it is open to all children, it has a specific Indigenous focus and has an almost exclusive Indigenous enrolment. All the teachers are identified as Indigenous and teach children vital early education with respect to culture, community and country. The centre also employs people from the local area, providing jobs to young people that keep them engaged and allow them to tighten their own links to their culture.

But the government's cuts do not reflect the words that spilled from the Prime Minister's mouth today when he tabled the ninth Closing the gap report, nor do they reflect the statement in the front of the report which states:

We will continue to focus on key priorities - from preconception and the early years through school, providing a positive start to life …

There could not be a more backward step than the agenda to cut Indigenous early childhood education.

I want to see this Prime Minister back up his rhetoric with action. I am certain that every single Australian would want that too. I want more than the lip-service commitment the Prime Minister made to closing the gap. We need it to result in outcomes. We do not need talk from the Prime Minister; we need leadership. We need action to make it a reality. The reality is that the cuts to Indigenous early childhood services that he is overseeing, through his leadership, directly contradict the speech he gave today about closing the gap.

These cuts do not just affect our Indigenous children; they affect a sweeping range of the lowest paid, most vulnerable members of our communities. They take $3.30 for every $1 in proposed childcare assistance from pensioners, families, new mums and young Australians. One point five million Australian families will be worse off. The worst hit will be single parents. Young jobseekers will be left with nothing to live on for five weeks—because that is sustainable! Jobseekers aged 22 to 24 will be hit with a massive cut, losing $48 per week.

This is a government which claims to be so worried and concerned about youth unemployment, yet it takes away the ability of young people to access TAFE and then punishes them for being unemployed. It is farcical, and it shows the contempt the government has for working families and those who are struggling to get by. This is also the government that insists on taking money from the most vulnerable people in our society apparently to pay for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, in some kind of blackmail arrangement, pitting those doing it tough against those with a disability.

Of course, they will not touch the $50 billion worth of big business tax cuts they are handing out to their mates, but they will go after pensioners and the unemployed. They are happy to cut $30 billion from education and they refuse to reverse the $500 million cut from the Indigenous affairs budget. These things reflect the priorities of the Turnbull Liberal government. No wonder people are turning against this government. (Time expired)