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Thursday, 25 May 2023
Page: 3683

Dr ALY (CowanMinister for Early Childhood Education and Minister for Youth) (09:54): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Child Care Subsidy) Bill 2023 amends the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999 to align it with existing practice in relation to the child care subsidy.

Recently, errors were identified in the existing legislation concerning the way some overpayments of child care subsidy are recovered by the Commonwealth.

These errors date back to when the CCS was introduced by the former government in 2018.

The consequences of those errors, which I believe were unintended by the former government, are that in certain circumstances the Commonwealth's processes for recovery of overpaid subsidy have not been supported by the legislation.

This bill rectifies those errors and aligns the legislation to longstanding policy and practice. It confirms who is responsible for the repayment of overpaid amounts of CCS and provides further clarity for providers and families.

The government has worked swiftly to bring the bill to the parliament after the Minister for Education and I were advised of the issue earlier this month, and it is important that the measures be enacted promptly to allow for the proper recovery of overpayments in the future.

The department has consulted with the Early Childhood Education and Care Reference Group on the amendments and will shortly establish a process for the repayment of any amounts which have been recovered in a manner inconsistent with the current legislation.

The process will be supported by a legislative instrument and minister's rules which will be issued shortly.

The department will continue to work with early childhood education and care providers and any affected families to explain the process and answer any questions.

The measures in this bill are important for the integrity of the child care subsidy system and ensuring that recovery of overpayments is made appropriately.

I commend the bill to the House

Debate adjourned.