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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 6 Hansard (14 May) . .

Page.. 1812..


MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Mr Wall for his supplementary question. We will be trying to do as much consultation as possible through that process, which is appropriate, and I will advise on the consultation process as we go forward.

Federal government—budget

DR BOURKE: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. Minister, can you provide advice to the Assembly on the Australian government budget measures in relation to child care and how these changes will affect Canberra families?

MS BURCH: I thank Dr Bourke for his interest. We are pleased the Australian government has given some consideration in its recent budget to measures that address the issues of affordability and accessibility to early education and care. What we know so far from the package is there will be a new childcare subsidy, commencing 1 July 2017. This will replace the current three subsidies with a single means-tested childcare subsidy. Early analysis of the proposed subsidy, including where benchmark prices are set, indicates that the change is not likely to have a great impact on many Canberra families. However, the Australian Liberal government has said the measures are contingent on passing the reforms to the family tax benefit, which would see families losing much-needed support when their children turn six years of age.

The Australian Liberal government has also announced cuts to the paid parental leave scheme which are intended to offset the cost of the childcare subsidy. This will remove the ability of parents—and some of those parents are known to many in this Assembly—to access both the government and the employer-funded parental leave schemes, potentially limiting the time parents can afford to stay at home with a new baby. It is understood the childcare subsidy will have a new activity test that will see children with a stay-at-home parent not eligible for any subsidised care under the current scheme, except for families with incomes of less than approximately $65,000 a year. This has the potential to reduce access to quality early childcare education and care for children whose parents are not working. It is often these children who derive the most benefit from early education.

Another component of the jobs for families package is a two-year in-home care nanny pilot. While the full scope of the details is yet to be revealed, we know this program will not require people caring for children under this arrangement to meet the current requirements of the national quality framework. In particular, they do not need to hold the minimum qualification. This policy announcement goes against the Productivity Commission's recommendation to extend subsidies to care provided by nannies but only if minimum standards can be assured by including them under the national quality framework. Providing funding for nannies may see some families withdraw their children from regulated, quality education and care services, including family day care, to be cared for at home by nannies with no qualifications.

The package provides limited access to early childhood education and care for families that need this flexibility. It is disappointing that, under this package, we will


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