Wednesday, 17 June 2020
From what I heard from the last speaker, women have never been better off than under a Liberal government, and, I have to say, there might be a few on that side who are saying it, but it’s not what Australian women right around this country are saying. In fact, we heard the minister just talk about how affordable childcare is in this country. Well, it’s not just the Labor party saying that’s not true; it’s actually organisations and families right across the country.
That gives me the opportunity to talk about a report released today by The Front Project. This has made very, very clear the struggle that families will be under if this government does what it intends to do and ‘snaps back’ to its high-cost childcare system. Ninety-seven per cent of all families surveyed said that early learning and care was important in their family. A quarter of families are concerned about future employment and nearly 10 per cent are looking for new jobs. So what we’ve got here is families who are concerned about the cost of child care. Fifty-seven per cent of families said that fees impact on their social spending, 55 per cent said that fees impact on their grocery budgets and 35 per cent said that fees impact on where they choose to live. So when this government says that there has never been a more affordable childcare system it is just plain wrong.
And, in the middle of a recession, when families are relying on mortgage and rent moratoriums, and JobKeeper and job seeker to get by, the government says: ‘We’ve got a plan for Australian women: we’re going to bring back childcare fees. That’s what’s going to fix the economy!’ Of course, childcare providers C&K are so worried that they’ve said the cost of child care is starting to influence the way people live their lives and the sort of nutrition families are able to put on the table for their children. That’s the impact this is having.
The Prime Minister pretends it concerns him. In April, when he announced his so-called ‘free’ child care for essential workers policy, he said:
I don’t want a parent to have to choose between feeding their kids and having their kids looked after.
Well, that’s exactly what’s going to happen when we revert—snap back—to the Liberals’ failed plan of high childcare fees.
Of course, the government is pretty tone deaf to what families and women need, and the shadow minister for women highlighted that. But you don’t need to listen to us to realise how out of touch the government is. You just need to turn to the Senate. Let’s hear it from Senator Rennick in the other place last week. He said that children should be at home with their parents and that parents should be home and not participating; that is their rightful place. That’s the attitude this government has. Senator Rennick belled the cat when it came to their plans for Australian women: stay at home, look after your kids, be seen and not heard. That is this government’s plan for Australian women.