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Thursday, 5 December 2019
Page: 5237

Senator FARUQI (New South Wales) (11:43): I rise to speak, on behalf of the Greens, on the Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Building on the Child Care Package) Bill 2019. This bill can probably best be described as fixing some, but definitely not all, of the problems with the government's childcare package. It includes extending the time frame in which an enrolment is ceased due to nonattendance, removing the limit on the number of children a childcare centre can classify as at risk and allowing the minister to prescribe specific circumstances in which subsidies can be paid where the child is absent at the start or end of enrolment. While we support the bill, I don't congratulate the government on it. These mistakes were made by the government, so the least they can do is fix them.

As we can always predict with this government, even when they try to fix a problem they inevitably cause another one. As highlighted by Early Childhood Australia, ELACCA and Goodstart in their submissions to the inquiry into this bill, there is a significant change, which is negative. Currently, the family assistance administration act allows a parent or carer to make an immediate claim for childcare subsidy, CSS, provided they also submit a written statement that they will provide their bank account details and/or tax file number within 28 days. This bill removes this 28-day period, which means a CCS claim will be rejected; and it actually risks a family incurring a debt for a subsidy they are otherwise entitled to. Why would we want to make life harder—

The PRESIDENT: Order! It being 11:45, the debate is interrupted. Senator Faruqi, you will be in continuation.