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Wednesday, 2 December 2015
Page: 9699

Senator SMITH (Western AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (17:21): I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

I rise to speak briefly in regard to document No.1, which is the President's report to the Senate on government responses outstanding to parliamentary committee reports as at 1 December 2015. I would just like to draw the Senate's attention to one response in particular that is outstanding, and that is the response to the report of the Community Affairs References Committee inquiry into grandparents who take primary responsibility for raising their grandchildren. We eagerly await the government's response to that. I understand it is not too far away at all. But, in the context of the very important issue of the increasing vulnerability that some Australian grandparents find themselves in as they start to take primary care responsibilities for their grandchildren, I would just like to reflect very favourably on two decisions the government has taken over the recent week.

Last Sunday my colleague Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training, announced that grandparents who are the primary carers of their grandchildren will be exempt from the childcare subsidy activity test. In short, this means that grandparent carers will be eligible to access up to 100 hours of approved child care fortnightly. In addition to that, I am pleased that our Western Australian colleague, Madam Acting Deputy President Reynolds, the Hon. Christian Porter, the new Minister for Social Services, has announced that the government will exempt grandparent carers from the proposed changes to family tax benefit part B. These are very solid first steps in the government's recognition of the important role that grandparent carers are playing. I know that other members of the Community Affairs References Committee eagerly await the government's response to that committee report. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.