CATHY McGOWAN ( Indi ) ( 14:22 ): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Education. Will the minister please outline to the House the new funding arrangements under the Jobs for Families childcare package and guarantee adequate assistance to support the move to the new childcare funding scheme, particularly for mobile childcare services in rural locations that are currently funded under the budget based funding programs?
Ms Alannah MacTiernan interjecting —
The SPEAKER: The member for Perth will cease interjecting.
Mr HARTSUYKER (Cowper—Minister for Vocational Education and Skills and Deputy Leader of the House) (14:22): I thank the member for her question. Let me say that this is a very important issue. In fact, it is an issue that has been raised with me by my National Party colleagues and my Liberal Party colleagues who represent those who live in regional and rural Australia. The purpose of the government's childcare package is to provide simpler, more affordable, more flexible and more accessible child care no matter where you live. Flexibility is vital for families in rural and remote locations and we understand the important role that mobile childcare services play. Mobile services offer innovative flexible child care that is particularly suitable for those in rural locations and also Indigenous communities who may not be able to sustain a full-scale childcare service.
Currently, families who use this type of service are not able to access any subsidies. But the government is assisting those families. As part of our reforms mobile childcare services will be eligible for the childcare subsidy, which is great news for rural and remote families. For the first time, families using the service will be eligible to claim the same assistance as families using other types of child care. The subsidy will be paid directly to childcare providers and the income will be assured, which is great news. It will also be able to be expanded as the size of the particular service increases. These providers have not previously had this opportunity. Their funding
has remained static no matter how many children attended the service. And because these services often support families in disadvantaged communities, many mobile services will also be eligible for additional funding through the government's $858 million Child Care Safety Net.
We understand the importance of providing child care to Australian families, and that is why we are investing over $40 billion in funding over the next four years. That is some $3 billion in additional funding, which is great news for Australian families. We are delivering affordable, flexible child care to over one million Australian families under this package. Labor has no credibility on child care. Under Labor, mobile services could not access the childcare benefit and they could not access the childcare rebate, so families using this service were excluded from assistance. We are fixing that under this package. Under Labor, funding for these services was fixed and could not grow to meet demand. Well, we are also fixing the problem. We are about simpler, more affordable, more flexible and more accessible child care, and the members opposite should be applauding this very fine policy.