Child Abuse

3 Aug | '2023

I would join the Leader of the Opposition with regard to his remarks about the heinous alleged crimes perpetrated against 91 precious young Australian girls. It was he, as the Minister for Home Affairs, who set up the agency the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, in conjunction with the AFP, the Queensland Police Service and the New South Wales Police Force, who were able to uncover these shocking and distressing alleged crimes. I would like to pay tribute to the Leader of the Opposition for his dedication to our youngest Australians, to the children of our nation. Today my thoughts remain with those victims and the families of those victims.

The member for Fenner said that the opposition didn’t support cheaper child care. To be clear, Member for Fenner, the opposition supports anything that supports Australian families. But the truth of the matter is that outof- pocket costs have gone up for Australian families. The truth is that the Labor government’s policy on cheaper child care—$4.7 billion—has not delivered to every family, as they promised. They were promised cheaper child care by the Prime Minister. I’ve lost track of how many times he’s said the phrase ‘cheaper child care’, using early learning centres as the backdrop for his political props.

In the lead-up to the last election he told parents and families that Australian families would be better off under Labor and that their out-of-pocket costs would be lower. That’s easy to do for a government who have no idea what they’re doing and did no due diligence to ensure the policy would work as they promised. Then 1 July happened, and what the government thought would be a huge win for them turned into a massive fail. Imagine promising families time and time again they would be better off and then standing by and watching as billions of dollars were immediately eaten up by inflation and higher fees.

We know that Labor is bad with economics, but how embarrassing this must be for the government.

According to the Parenthood, 90 per cent of Australian families have watched their early childhood education fees increase in recent weeks. Remember, last time Labor was in government, fees skyrocketed by 53 per cent in just six years. They’ve already increased eight per cent in the last nine months. My office has been inundated with emails from families who are further out of pocket now than they were before 1 July. This includes Sarah in Jamisontown, who watched her fees rise by $18 a day, and Naomi in Rothwell, who’s now paying $45 more a day for her two children. The Prime Minister promised families they would be better off, but what I’m hearing is that families are out of pocket and they’re struggling to pay their rent or mortgages, their bills and their early learning fees.

Labor like to claim they support families, but, when you look at their policies and their track record, they simply have not delivered for Australian families and they have failed to deliver with this policy. Four point seven billion dollars: that’s how much Labor’s cheaper child care policy cost—$4.7 billion, and I haven’t met a family who claim they are better off now than they were 12 months ago; $4.7 billion, and yet the number of families stuck on waiting lists continues to grow; $4.7 billion, and not one single dollar will be spent to create one additional place at a centre or increase access for new or existing families.

During the winter break, I spent some time travelling through regional and rural South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania, speaking with parents and families who have no access to early learning, who cannot return to work and whose children cannot experience the wonderful benefits of early learning. It’s no wonder those parents are absolutely angry. I’ve asked the department why and I’ve asked the minister why, and I can’t get a straight answer to why communities who most need access are being left behind by this Labor government. Labor has left regional communities and those families behind, and it’s disgraceful. It’s an absolute disgrace.

It has become pretty clear the Albanese government have no idea what they are doing. They have no plan to increase access, no plan to address rising fees and no plan to fix the workforce concerns. With out-of-pocket costs rising again, Australian families deserve to know why they always pay more under Labor.

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