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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 6150


Mr WILKIE (Denison) (13:42): Early childhood education is one of the most important responsibilities for government. That's why I've been a constant supporter of better funding for the sector and that's why I oppose the federal government's childcare reforms set to kick in on 1 July this year, which will see many low-income families have access to fewer hours of early childhood education. If you want proof that the government doesn't value early childhood education, you need to look no further than the pay crisis that has been going on in the sector for years. For instance, early childhood educators with a certificate III are paid about $800 a week before tax, which is about half average weekly earnings and just a fraction above the minimum wage. Clearly, that's a disgracefully low salary for skilled workers with big responsibilities, and it quite simply beggars belief that we pay so little to those who care for our most precious people. The same can be said for workers in the aged-care and disability sectors.

Fixing this is within our grasp because we have the wealth and the know-how to do so, but, regrettably, we don't have the political will, and that's shameful. It seems tax cuts for big business and high-paid workers are more important than our children and those who care for them.