DOORSTOP INTERVIEW - ADELAIDE - MONDAY, 2 JANUARY 2017

SUBJECTS: Government's failure to act on child care waiting lists, Palestine, Liberal chaos and division

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: We have not seen a single government in Australia’s recent history that has gone so long without doing a single thing to help Australian families when it comes to affordable, accessible child care. The Turnbull Government holds that record. And today we learn they’re likely to make it even harder for Australian families.

Their own projections show that an additional 300,000 child care places will be required in the coming years, yet the government have absolutely no policy to assist more places. The Turnbull government clearly doesn’t see child care policy as a priority – they see it as some sort of welfare support, which we know is not at the top of their list. What they need to recognise is that it is critical education policy, early childhood education, but also it’s critical economic policy. If there are not the places for Australian children, then Australian parents cannot participate in the workforce.

New figures released today show that an additional 300,000 places will be required in just the next few years for Australian parents to be able to return to work. That is, we need to be building something in the order of 1,600 new child care services across Australia. But I’m sure that parents who are already on waiting lists are struggling to see where these construction sites are under way.

Because we know that this government has absolutely no plans for addressing waiting lists, it has absolutely no plans for increasing accessibility of child care, and this government sadly has absolutely no plans to increase support for Australian families.

We know that the government’s own figures show that the time for talking is long overdue. The time for the government to act on critically important child care policy is here.

JOURNALIST: We spoke with Simon Birmingham a short time ago and he said that those figures are bogus, that you haven’t read them correctly, and that they are actually funding - what they put in the mid-year budget review is that they are actually funding 300,00 extra places. Is that your understanding?

ELLIS: The problem that Simon Birmingham has is that these are his own figures, these are the figures that the government released. It’s one thing to fund places, but if the services don’t exist, then that is of no assistance to any parent. Now today, across Australia, we have parents who are struggling on waiting lists for one year, two years, or up to three years already. How are those parents going to feel when they  learn that an additional 300,000 places are required and all the Minister can do is play politics and not offer a single solution.

JOURNALIST: Tony Abbott is obviously calling for a cut in aid to the Palestinian authority, apparently it’s $40 million a year at the moment, and he’s also calling for the embassy to possibly be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. What are your thoughts on that?

ELLIS: Clearly foreign policy is the latest battleground in the internal divisions in the Liberal Party. What we see here is Tony Abbott using policy on the Middle East to try and undermine Malcolm Turnbull. I think what all Australians would like to see is our foreign policy being guided be the best solution to peace in the Middle East and for Australia’s interest. Labor continues to support a two-state solution. Of course, we don’t support moving the embassy when that is out of line with international law and recognition of the capital. But furthermore, we wish that the government would just get on with the job of governing and put their own internal divisions behind them.

JOURNALIST: In this another example of Tony Abbott trying to undermine Malcolm Turnbull?

ELLIS: 2017 has so far been all about Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull putting their own internal divisions ahead of the Australian public and Australia’s best interests. Now we see that this has gone to the extent of influencing our foreign policy debate. This is an absolute farce – both Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull need to get over themselves and focus on Australia’s best interests and on sound foreign policy.

ENDS