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Thursday, 23 March 2017
Page: 2033

Senator HINCH (Victoria) (13:41): Jacki Weaver, when she was a struggling young actress, long before she became a doyenne in Hollywood, admitted in later years that she once stole a bottle of milk off her neighbour's veranda. She did it because she was a single mum with a young son, Dylan. She would haul him around with her to auditions and to the theatre, and he would be babysat by people in the orchestra pit, because back then there was no single mother's pension and there were no childcare benefits at all.

I thought, when I read the omnibus bill: how things have changed. Don't get me wrong—because I have supported and I will support most of the changes to the childcare subsidies, especially for the lowest wage earners, including many single mums, who now will be getting 86 per cent of their childcare subsidised—but, not having any young children, I was shocked when I saw a graph produced by the government, a very impressive looking graph, that showed that wealthy Australian families earning between $350,000 and $500,000 had been getting a 50 per cent rebate subsidy on their child care. Now, that is mad, that is crazy, and I will be moving an amendment to make that go to zero. When you get $350,000 a year, you will get zero taxpayer dollars in childcare subsidies.

Having listened to Senator Pratt just a few minutes ago, when she said the opposition will not support giving more aid to middle-class families at the expense of other people, I hope that she and Senator Cameron will vote in favour of my amendment to take all taxpayer-funded child care away from people earning between $350,000 and $500,000 a year. I cannot see parties with a proud history of protecting workers, and working for the people, voting against an amendment which would stop people who earn half million bucks a year from getting taxpayer dollars from an increasingly bare larder.

I do support Senator Kakoschke-Moore's comments, the Xenophon team's comments, on the government's assurances about the importance of early education for Indigenous children. So go and have a look at this graph. Gloom and doom have been coming from the Labor Party and from the Greens, but what is going to happen when this bill passes is that nearly a million families, on average, will receive more. Nearly a million families will be better off. Just under 200,000 families, 180,000, will receive the same level of subsidy as they get now. Just under 50,000 families, on average, will receive less. About 23,000 families, who are earning $350,000 or more, will receive nothing, and I believe that is the way it should be. So I will be putting up that amendment, which I believe the government support, and I hope that Labor and the Greens will also back it.

I know that Senator Leyonhjelm has an amendment which he is putting up in which he wants the phasing out, the tapering, of these benefits to be even harsher, and I agree with him that $350,000 is too high. I hope that he will get some support for his idea that the taper should come in from about $200,000 and go down to $350,000, when you get nothing. He will be putting that amendment up. I will support that. Then I will have my own amendment, and then I will support the government.