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Thursday, 21 November 2013
Page: 1050

Child Care


Dr CHALMERS (Rankin) (14:36): My question is also to the Assistant Minister for Education. Nine thousand six hundred families in my electorate of Rankin rely on the childcare rebate. Why is the government ignoring their needs by refusing to guarantee the rebate and exposing local families to the Abbott axe?


Ms LEY (FarrerAssistant Minister for Education) (14:37): This is a fascinating question. It tells us so much about the modern Labor Party. Yes, it is true that this week the Minister for Social Services introduced legislation to maintain the childcare rebate limit at $7,500 for three financial years starting from 1 July 2014, but it is really important to put this into context. The context, as usual, is Labor's debt—the debt that we on this side of the House have inherited.

We have heard a lot of numbers. The Treasurer talks about numbers and eloquently expresses them, but I would like to put this information on the table. If we run budget surpluses bigger than the budget surpluses ever run by the Howard government, it would take 20 years to pay off Labor's debt. The interest bill alone is over $10 billion a year. I could build the member for Lyne's early intervention centre with just a portion of that money. Labor has never delivered a budget surplus.

Let us go back to this budget. I want to talk about the budget the member refers to. Remember the budget that Labor put down in May this year, the one they never expected to implement, the one where they scrambled desperately to plug the leaks coming from their own reckless spending, the one where they tried to create a fig leaf of economic credibility. What they did in that budget was take the $100 million already in savings that we have had to implement this week from that budget, despite not having passed the legislation. So the $100 million that the member asks me about is long gone. This government has to legislate to mop up Labor's mess, a mess created—

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, I have a point of order.

The SPEAKER: I call the Manager of Opposition Business. You cannot go on relevance. What is the standing order?

Mr Burke: Um—

The SPEAKER: Good try. No standing order.

Mr Burke: I'll let it go.

The SPEAKER: I call the assistant minister.

Ms LEY: I do not know why the Labor Party do not understand that the $100 million is long gone from the bottom line.

Mr Snowdon interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Lingiari will desist!

Ms LEY: It is pretty outrageous to expect us with the economic credibility and the responsibility we bring to managing the nation's finances not to implement this measure which Labor has already taken into account. The Labor Party are without courage, without imagination and without competence. We make no apologies for cleaning up their mess.

The SPEAKER: I remind those on my left that we will have no more points of order on standing orders for 'um'.