Abbott Government cuts to child care; the Government’s refusal to release the Productivity Commission’s child care review; bi-partisanship on child care policy


GREG JENNETT, JOURNALIST: Kate Ellis, picking up where Scott Morrison left off, he says that he’s written to you about the productivity report into child care, where do you think this is going to lead?

KATE ELLIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CHILD CARE: Well I certainly hope that it will lead to, one, the Government finally releasing the report. There’s absolutely no reason that we know for them to continue sitting on it, and in the interest of proper consultation and serious debate about the way forward, we need to see that document. But also Minister Morrison says that he wants to engage in a dialogue about the way forward, I really look forward to meeting with him and telling him that the first step in that process is him reversing the $1 billion in cuts to child care programs that this Government has already introduced

JENNETT: So that’s not necessarily a welcoming start to a dialogue though, pushing back from the get go?

ELLIS: Look I will always support continued reforms to make child care more affordable, high quality and accessible for Australian families. I’m absolutely supportive of that. But the Government’s talk needs to match the Government’s actions, and at the very same time that they claim that they’re working on a ‘families package’ – that they’re looking at ways to improve this system – they still have a bill before this parliament to cut the child care benefit that their own department says will make 500,000 Australian families worse off.

JENNETT: Assuming that there is an injection of extra money back into the system from the left overs of what we used to call the PPL, does that create scope for the start of some sort of bi-partisanship or a process that could lead to that?

ELLIS: We would certainly welcome the Government using those funds to reverse the cuts they’ve already announced and we will certainly be talking to them about our advice on the next steps in fixing the system.

JENNETT: Scott Morrison was regarded with the senate as something of a constructive negotiator, he got in there and sorted support for his bills and his policies, do you think he’s going to bring the same approach to the child care area?

ELLIS: I certainly hope so, I certainly hope that the Minister is open to hearing about some of the damage that has already been done by this Government, and hearing serious suggestions about ways he can reverse that. The Family Day Care sector has been absolutely attacked by this Government and I hope that this Minister will look at ways that he can undo some of that damage and start rebuilding the sector, and I really look forward to trying to work with him to achieve just that.

JENNETT: What odds would you put on a consensus, not 100 per cent, but some sort of consensus emerging on this?

ELLIS: Well I think the moment they reverse their cuts then the odds will improve greatly, so let’s hope we get past that first hurdle and then we can seriously continue to look at the future of Australian child care.

JENNETT: Do you hear and take seriously these calls for things like economic summits and party’s coming together to get changes in Australian politics? Scott Morrison’s making approaches of this sort, do you embrace that?

ELLIS: Look, I consider myself to be a natural optimist, I’m always hopeful that we will find a way forward. Unfortunately though, the evidence that we’ve seen so far, we’ve seen a lot of talk, we’ve seen a lot of statements, but every action that we’ve seen has actually been to make child care less affordable, to make it harder for Australian families, and to really cut the programs that are available to support the child care sector and families across Australia with their cost of living pressures. So unless they can start acting in a way that is consistent with what they claim they’re trying to achieve, then it won’t be anything more than just talk from the Government

JENNETT: And just finally, the road map for some of this is of course the productivity report itself, would you be asking or demanding access to the final copy of that?

ELLIS: Look, the Government is compelled to release the report within the next two sitting weeks. My question is, what do they possibly have to gain from keeping it a secret? And if they’re serious about wanting to consult with the sector, they should release it immediately so that we all have a basis for debate. This is just madness, they’ve had the report since October, it is time to release it in the public domain.

JENNETT: All right Kate Ellis, Thank you

ELLIS: Thank you