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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 61

Child Care


Senator O'SULLIVAN (Queensland) (14:30): . My question is to the Minister for Education and Training, Senator Birmingham. Would the minister advise the Senate how the Turnbull government's new childcare package will support families from its commencement on Monday 2 July, including those families that have hit the childcare rebate cap and are currently paying full fees?


Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training and Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (14:31): I thank Senator O'Sullivan for his question and his care, interest and support for working Australian families in addressing their household budget issues and ensuring they have greater support in meeting their childcare costs and greater choice in being able to work when they choose to do so.

There are just four days to go until the biggest improvements to Australia's childcare subsidy system in 40 years, four days to go until the Turnbull government's $2½ billion of additional investment into our support for working families kicks in and starts to take effect. There are four days to go until we simplify the childcare system by getting rid of a mix of multiple complex payments with one new childcare subsidy. There are four days to go until the rate of subsidy increases for the overwhelming majority of Australian families and increases significantly for the lowest income families. Those earning less than around $67,000 as a family will see that rate of subsidy increase from 72 per cent all the way up to 85 per cent to help them with cost-of-living pressures. There are four days to go until, importantly—as Senator O'Sullivan referenced—the abolition of the cap on the childcare rebate, the cap that sees thousands and thousands of Australian families run out of childcare support part way through the financial year. And that, of course, means that many families work fewer days or end up going to work just to pay the childcare costs. There are four days to go until a new structure puts in place an efficient benchmark price, as the Productivity Commission recommended, to keep a lid on fee growth into the future. This is comprehensive reform. It's going to benefit an estimated one million Australian families, including more than 7,000 in just the electorate of Longman in the seat of Queensland, ensuring real benefits, real help, more support for more Australian families.


Senator O'SULLIVAN (Queensland) (14:33): I congratulate the minister on his first-class performance in this ministry over the time that he's been in charge. Will the minister inform the Senate of the number of families set to benefit overall and from the removal of the CCR annual cap specifically?


Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training and Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (14:33): The extent of benefit is widespread. As I indicated before, around one million Australian families are expected to benefit. Indeed, a particular benefit flows to those who are hitting the current childcare rebate cap. New data that we've analysed and released today shows that by June this year more than 63,000 families had already hit that cap. We expect that, by the end of this month, that will have increased to around 100,000 Australian families. Those are families who are choosing to, or having to, pay all of their out-of-pocket costs entirely in their childcare fees, and that can be a significant burden on those families. And that doesn't count the many families who make the assessment in advance and decide they'll just work fewer days to get that childcare rebate to stretch longer. From next Monday, that cap applies no more to families earning less than $187,000. That's good news for them, greater support for their household budgets and greater flexibility— (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator O'Sullivan, a final supplementary question.



Senator O'SULLIVAN (Queensland) (14:34): Thank you, Minister. That is good news wall to wall. Would the minister also outline any other options for these families?


Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training and Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (14:34): It's an increasingly stark choice for Australian families and Australian workers in terms of the policy options available to them. The Turnbull government is committed to more support for working families and to more support for Australian workers. The Turnbull government is delivering this childcare support despite the opposition of the Labor Party to our reforms. If not for their opposition, these reforms wouldn't be coming into place in four days time; they would have come into place 350 days ago—last year. But, of course, the Labor Party stood in the way of that support for working Australian families, just as the Labor Party opposes tax relief for working Australian families, just as the Labor Party wants to put an extra $70 billion of taxes back onto working Australian families and just as the Labor Party stands in the way of creating more jobs and higher wages for Australian families because of their opposition to competitive company tax rates around Australia. The choice is stark; the choice is for the Turnbull government to deliver for working families.