Three local issues: aged care, childcare, traffic congestion

By Terri Butler MP

16 June 2021

Our aged-care system is in crisis. The Prime Minister has neglected older Australians for far too long. There is a reason people avoid putting their parents into aged-care facilities for as long as possible, and that is that the Liberals and Nationals, who have been in power for eight long years, have cut $1.7 billion from the system. Aged care is under increasing pressure, but it doesn't have to be like that. There are changes the government can make now to make the system better. In fact, there are 148 recommendations from the recent royal commission. The government has a blueprint for change. Now they need to deliver.

The Commonwealth is responsible for the aged-care system, but, as with so many other things, the Morrison government has just failed to step up to the job. They'd rather point the finger at the states or anyone else. The Morrison government is responsible for the $1.7 billion in federal funding cuts and the terrible neglect described in the royal commission. The Morrison government was asleep at the wheel when 685 older Australians died in aged-care homes during last year's coronavirus outbreak. They were asleep at the wheel when almost 30,000 Australians died while still waiting for a home-care package. On top of the already stressed system, the Morrison government is now bungling the vaccine rollout.

Families are really concerned, and residents are frightened. My electorate office hears—as I'm sure yours does, Deputy Speaker—from community members all the time, with worries about what is happening in aged care. At one of the aged-care facilities in my electorate, half of the residents were fully vaccinated, while the other half were waiting for months to receive just their first dose. It was only when I raised the issue in this chamber during question time that the government took some action.

Another issue that people are constantly raising with me—and this has been the case in the entire time that I've been the member for Griffith—is child care. Unfortunately the Morrison government missed an opportunity in this year's budget to make changes to the childcare system that would make it work better for working families. The Morrison government's childcare system has failed to keep costs down. It has also failed to support second income earners in a family to work more than three days a week. People tell me that, if they go back for the fourth day, they will be paying for the privilege of going to work, after childcare costs are taken out.

Parents who want to work shouldn't be discouraged from doing so because of the financial impediment. But, when putting your child into care costs more than you make to go to work that extra day, families are left with no choice. Labor has a plan to change that. An Albanese Labor government will introduce our Cheaper Child Care plan, which will cut childcare fees and put more money into the pockets of working families. Labor's plan will provide more support to more families and for longer. It will allow more second income earners to work more and contribute to this nation's economic recovery through paid employment.

Experts have been calling for an investment like this for a good long time. It's good for parents, it's good for children and it's good for the economy too. In answer to those calls, though, the Morrison government has missed the mark. If you have one child in care, the Morrison government will not increase your subsidy, and, for any of the families lucky enough to receive any lift in subsidy under their plan, it will only be temporary. Labor's plan, on the other hand, will make child care cheaper for 97 per cent of families in the system, for the entire time that their children are in the system. Our plan will also make outside hours and vacation care cheaper because the subsidy lift won't just apply to families with children five years and under. Childcare fees and out-of-pocket costs are out of control under this government. Labor will fix the system for good.

Deputy Speaker Vasta, another issue that you and I share is our concern about traffic congestion on the south side of Brisbane. It remains a big issue. I've spoken in the parliament many times about the need for serious funding and considered plans when it comes to managing traffic congestion. Everyone knows what it's like to be stuck in traffic. Each minute in traffic is a minute away from the important things like work, friends, downtime and, most importantly, being with family. There are a couple of huge traffic snarls in my electorate, including the Cavendish Road level crossing, which is one of the south side's worst snarls. Deputy Speaker Vasta, in your electorate of Bonner, the Morrison government has committed funding to fix the Linden level crossing, which of course I support. But we in Griffith shouldn't have to see a fatality at the Cavendish Road level crossing before something is done about that level crossing as well. It's really telling that the Morrison government's Urban Congestion Fund— (Time expired)