Consideration in Detail

5 Jun | '2024

It’s disappointing that the minister for this portfolio, an important portfolio, has not turned up for this consideration in detail and has instead sent his junior minister to speak on his behalf. It is verydisappointing for Australians and certainly this side of the chamber. I was reading through my considerationin-detail speech from last year and my opening line then was, ‘It has been 12 months since the Albanese government came to power and, unlike the Prime Minister’s repeated promises, I haven’t met an Australian who is better off under Labor.’ That still seems to be the case, because two years later, three budgets later, I can say that that statement still stands. In fact, I’m yet to meet any Australian who is better off now than they were two years ago when the government came to power, or an Australian who felt safer or more secure than they did two years ago, because the reality is that Australians always suffer under Labor. They can see through the thinlyveiled lies and carefully crafted messages from Labor’s best—and expensive—spin doctors.

Australians know their housing and rental costs are higher now than they were two years ago. They can see that gas and electricity bills have skyrocketed since 2021-22. In fact, a typical Australian household with a mortgage is $35,000 a year worse off under this Labor government than they were under the coalition. Like many Australians, I was pretty disappointed with this year’s budget. As I flicked through the pages of the budget paper 2, I thought, ‘Wow, we are a little light on early childhood education.’ You might say, ‘Surely, there was a measure to help bring down the increasing cost of early childhood education,’ which has already risen back up—I say to the minister—again by 7.1 per cent in less than 12 months. Sadly, there was nothing, no relief from Labor for those families who are struggling to make ends meet and who pay for the cost of their early childhood education.

If there is no support for families to cover their rising out-of-pocket costs, maybe there is some funding for families who have no access at all to early childhood education. I’m talking about families who live in regional, rural and remote areas across our country, families who don’t work a standard nine-to-five, and families who are stuck languishing on those very long waiting lists or who can only get a day or two when they really need more than that. If you’re one of those families holding out for help, you will also be very disappointed because there’s nothing to increase access to early childhood education in this budget.

The government and the minister like to talk about no Australian being worse off under them and no child being left behind. What they conveniently forget to tell you is those statements don’t apply to anyone who lives in a regional, rural or remote area. We know that, in many cases, children living in regional areas are more likely to start developmentally behind when compared to children living in our capital cities, yet this government has no plans to support children and their families in regional areas, just no plans. Do you know what they do have plans for? They have plans for 36,000 new public servants in Canberra. That’s right. The government loves to talk about how important access to early learning is for children and their parents but, when it comes down to it, they would rather spend money on more Commonwealth employees than the future of this country.

I ask: with fees already skyrocketing, Minister, how do you plan to deliver cost-of-living relief to families accessing early childhood education? Minister, what plans do you have to increase access for the many families across Australia who are stuck on waiting lists and struggling to pay their bills because many of them have no access?

The Prime Minister said that this budget was for all Australians. What a great line, but it was probably crafted by his media unit because that is all it was—a line—because this is not a budget for all Australians and it most certainly is not a budget for families with young children who need access to early learning. It’s a budget full of despair and broken promises—a budget from a Labor government that lied to get into power, divided us and then broke the spirit of so many through reckless policies and spending. They have killed the great Australian dream of homeownership, have crushed small businesses and are draining our regions dry. Australians deserve better than another three years of hard Labor.


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