TUESDAY, 10 MARCH 2020
ANIKA WELLS, MEMBER FOR LILLEY: Good morning everyone. I'm Anika Wells, your Federal Member for Lilley. I’m really pleased to have the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party, Richard Marles, here with me today in Brighton to really get stuck into an issue I think is not getting enough attention across the national political landscape at the moment. That is the issue of the costs of child care for hundreds of thousands of families right across Australia. Child care costs are really encroaching upon the household budget. I know as someone who has a three year old in childcare myself, it has a big impact on our household budget and that problem has actually gotten a lot worse for us since the LNP have been in Government. A few years back, the now Prime Minister Scott Morrison, but then Treasurer, overhauled the child care system and promised families like mine and families like we have here in Brighton that their out of pocket costs would decrease with more money back in their pocket, and he promised that they would have to spend less on child care. But just a few years on, those savings have been entirely absorbed by the towering system. People don't see any of those savings anymore, and in fact here in Brighton, which is similar to the neighbouring suburbs of Sandgate and Deagon, there's actually been a 19.1 per cent increase in the cost of childcare just in the past 18 months. That is obscene. For families to absorb a 19 per cent cost in child care fees, particularly families that have more than one child enrolled in child care, families with young children who are already facing a very tough local economy here, it's really not good enough. The Government isn't doing anything about it. The very few pieces of legislation we've seen through the House since the election have been tinkering around the edges. It hasn't been about a big fix; it hasn't been about making lives and budgets easier for northside families. It's something I am extremely concerned about and I'll continue to fight for. And that's why it was so good to have our Deputy Leader, Richard Marles, with me today to see what it's like here in Brighton and get stuck into this himself. I'll hand it over to Richard.
RICHARD MARLES, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER: Well it's fantastic to be here with Anika Wells, our wonderful Member for Lilley, who's doing such a great job in the Federal Parliament representing this community and it's fantastic to be here at Goodstart Early Learning Centre in Brighton near Brisbane. We've been having a look around at the centre and seeing the really fantastic job that is being done here in terms of not only looking after kids, but providing kids the beginnings of their education. What we know about early learning is that in the educational journey, the most important years are the first years and that's happening right here. It reminds us of how central early learning centres are. Child care centres are the way in which we organise our lives now. As a parent of four we have had a relationship, our family with a child care centre for 18 years. It was completely fundamental to how we operated as a family and so making sure that these centres are affordable is really critical. As Anika has just said, we've seen enormous price rises in this suburb since the Morrison Government did its review. But since the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government came to power in 2013, we've seen a 34 per cent increase in child care fees. Now that comes at a period where over that journey we have seen stagnating wages, the cost of living going up in a whole range of areas. This is becoming increasingly hard to afford and that's why we need to see responses from the Government about putting in place downward pressures on child care fees. It's absolutely critical for how our society now works and it's really important for how this centre here in Brighton works and for child care centres around the country.
I'd like to just mention that obviously we are seeing the Coronavirus now is emerging as an enormous global crisis. We've raised the question here. This is a centre which is part of a large company, operating 700 centres around Australia. Obviously they are very mindful of the Coronavirus and they're putting in place protocols and information for their staff. They're obviously well aware of how to deal with viruses and diseases coming into their centre but that's going to be really important that centres like this are able to provide leadership within our community and continue to operate during this crisis. I think what we need to be seeing right now as the Government prepares its stimulus package is a Government that is providing leadership in relation to the Coronavirus so that we do not see any complacency in the way in which this issue is handled. We need leadership in respect of the very big decisions that are going to need to be made because our country cannot afford complacency on the part of our Government when it comes to the handling of it. What that means in terms of the stimulus that is being put forward by the Government is that it must be sufficient for the task. This is going to have an economic impact. We've seen the Government be complacent in relation to the economy last year before the bushfires and before Coronavirus emerged. It's going to be very important that as we go forward the Government reacts to this in a way which demonstrates leadership and is not complacent.
JOURNALIST: If the Labor Party was in Government what would they be doing differently to the Morrison Government?
MARLES: Well what's absolutely critical is that in a global crisis such as this, that we see leadership on the part of our Government. Back in 2008 when the Global Financial Crisis hit, you saw leadership from the then Rudd Government and Treasurer Wayne Swan, in making the big decisions that needed to be made, which meant that Australia was one of only two countries in the developed world which got through the Global Financial Crisis without going into recession. It took big decisions and it took leadership. That's what we need to see now because our country cannot afford any complacency on the part of this Government.