Senate Estimates is usually a chance for answers, but for Simon Birmingham, it’s a time for dodging basic questions.
Despite earlier spruiking his Government’s child care changes, the Minister and his Department were unable to answer even the most basic questions about how families will be impacted.
In fact, “taking it on notice” was used at a frighteningly frequent pace – more than 15 times in only 15 minutes – as the following exchanges show:
SENATOR ANNE URQUHART: How many families will be worse off because of the child care changes?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I’ll take it on notice to see what we can do.
SENATOR URQUHART: But you are spending $3.5 billion, so how can you possibly not know who will be worse off when you are spending that amount of money?
DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well we’ve taken it on notice.
SENATOR URQUHART: How many will be worse off because of the activity test?
BIRMINGHAM: I think that’s what we’ve taken on notice.
SENATOR URQUHART: How many single income families on incomes over $65,000 a year will lose access to child care?
BIRMINGHAM: Again, we’ll take that on notice.
[SENATE ESTIMATES, 21 OCTOBER 2015]
These are the most basic details about the Government’s child care changes and the fact that they couldn’t – or were unwilling – to answer simply isn’t good enough.
23 weeks, two Estimates hearings and still a complete lack of information from the Government isn’t just farcical – it’s frightening.
THURSDAY, 22 OCTOBER 2015