Door Stop – Learning Links, Peakhurst, Sydney

E&O

MEMBER BANKS DAVID COLEMAN:

Hello. It’s fantastic to be here at Learning Links here in Peakhurst in the Banks constituency. Learning Links is a fantastic place. It’s one of the biggest employers in South Sydney, with over 200 employees in the nursery school here and a whole range of really important services that are provided to children across our community. It’s fantastic to be here with Minister Robert to talk about the new Starting Blocks web service (www.StartingBlocks.gov.au), which will be fantastic for our parents across the country. And I wanted to introduce the CEO of Learning Links, Birgitte Maibom, to say a few words.

Birgitte.

BIRGITTE MAIBOM, CEO of LEARNING LINKS:

Yes thanks. It’s a fantastic opportunity to be here today with the minister and with David Coleman, who is our MP here in the Banks constituency. Learning Links is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, so we’re kind of starting our celebrations. We are a charity that supports children with learning disabilities and learning difficulties, and we do this in collaboration with parents and schools. And our own staff try to help fill the gaps in services that exist to ensure that children who might otherwise fall behind can be helped early and can thrive throughout their education. We are therefore very happy to have the opportunity to launch our celebrations. We will continue for a full year because it is an organization that has a very, very proud history in this region. Today we are just on the other side of Sydney. We provide services in New South Wales and increasingly professional learning to teachers and professionals across Australia. So, an amazing opportunity. Thank you, David and Minister, for having the opportunity to welcome you here today.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Listen, thank you, Birgitte. Thank you, Minister Coleman, not just the local member, but the Minister of Mental Health. And of course, Dave’s work was instrumental in getting education ministers to agree last Friday to include mental health in the national health and physical education curriculum.

It’s great to be here at Learning Links to speak and launch the startingblocks.gov.au website. It’s a simple, one-stop space where parents and families can go to see what daycares or early learning centers are in their area to compare them on quality, view fee estimates, view availability, view vacancies, whether it’s long day care, short early education, or school after school hours. So one place to go for parents. And it’s also a great opportunity to talk about it on March 7th, so in a few weeks, of course, the Morrison government’s $2 billion injection into child care will begin, where the fees for the second and the third child, the subsidy that the federal government will provide will increase by 30% for this second and third child under the age of five until a full reimbursement of 95%. This will save the average parent with two or more children $2,200 on average. At a time when the pressure of the cost of living is still upon us, this is a significant saving, and it’s really designed to help families. So it was great to talk, not only with Birgitte here, but of course with Greg, the president, and others about what the government is doing, to get their feedback on the great job they’re doing here at also center.

QUESTION:

How embarrassing is it for the government that it had to shelve its religious discrimination bill?

MINISTER ROBERT:

We delayed the religious discrimination requirement or bill until the last election. So we honored that promise. This bill was actually passed by the House of Representatives. But at the same time, changes were made to the Sex Discrimination Act. The problem with these amendments which have been passed by Labor is that there is a very real chance that these amendments which they have passed to section 37 of the Sex Discrimination Act will have a negative consequence by increasing discrimination against certain children, for example, intersex people. children against pregnancy, if you can believe it. This is the problem with Labour’s rushing policy. Now we will have to fix this. This bill was passed in the House. The Attorney General and I are working very carefully on the unintended consequences of these hasty changes.

QUESTION:

As you mentioned, this was first promised in 2018, and it was kind of left until the last days of Parliament before the election. Do you think you botched the process of passing this bill by leaving it so late?

MINISTER ROBERT:

The bill, of course, went through two important committees in parliament. Both committees recommended that the bill be passed. There were also extensive discussions with various stakeholders across the country. And remember, the religious discrimination bill passed the House of Representatives in its entirety. It was the consequential changes to a completely different law, the Sex Discrimination Act, and the hard-nosed approach of the Labor Party to trying to make changes to section 37 that have now created the substantial problem in which we find ourselves . The Morrison government remained loyal to Australia. people. We promised to pass the bill. We have. He passed the House of Representatives. Now we have to try to fix this consequential amendment debacle.

QUESTION:

But the bill was promised to pass through both chambers. Isn’t that right? Go through become law?

MINISTER ROBERT:

We’ve always made, from an election promise, that we would get it through Parliament, and that’s what we’re trying to do. Now Parliament has its own mind, its own will, especially in the Senate. We respect that. And this bill would pass with – with the support of Labor. Except for this diabolical situation on the Section 37 amendments they put in place, which now have extraordinary potential unintended consequences of discrimination.

QUESTION:

But five of your own MPs crossed the floor to vote in favor of some of the amendments. What do you think of that? Are you worried about unity within your own party?

MINISTER ROBERT:

What’s great about the Liberal Party is that people have the freedom to make decisions and change parties. In the Labor Party, if you cross the floor, you are expelled. A better question, respectfully, would be how are Labor allowed to expel their members simply for exercising freedom of conscience? Five members of the Liberal Party expressing that freedom is a good and healthy thing for democracy.

Now, of course, we like to get the whole team together, and you see you walking across the floor quite irregularly. The challenge in this case is that they crossed the floor to support an amendment that currently seeks to increase discrimination as an unintended consequence. This is the problem with Labour’s botched amendments.

QUESTION:

And what was your reaction when the prime minister floated the idea of ​​using a federal integrity commission to try to convince some backbenchers to participate in the religious discrimination bill?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Well, I don’t accept the question. I understand this is the gossip coming out of an apparent cabinet leak, and we’ll leave it at that.

QUESTION:

And why haven’t you seen the Integrity Commission legislation yet?

MINISTER ROBERT:

We have put on the table more than 350 pages of legislation. We introduced this bill. We look forward to bringing this in with the support of Labour, the Labor opposition have said they will not support this. They put forward two flimsy pieces of paper with a pencil scratching what they would do without explaining it in detail. We have been very frank. The legislation is there for all to see and with the support of Labor we would see it passed. Labor said they were unwilling to back him.

QUESTION:

But tabling the bill does not mean presenting it, opening it up to debate and allowing debate.

MINISTER ROBERT:

We have made it very clear that we will pass this bill with the support of Labour. It’s there for them to support us, and they decided not to.

QUESTION:

Sorry. Governments routinely introduce bills that do not enjoy cross-party support. So how is it different?

MINISTER ROBERT:

When it comes to something that has such a broad impact and has been the subject of extensive consultation, we want it to happen in a bipartisan format so that everyone can support it. This is a different piece to the other pieces of legislation, so we want it to be bipartisan and we are looking for Labor to support it. That’s why we’ve been up front. We’ve been very transparent in providing it to everyone. Unfortunately, the Labor Party will not support it.

QUESTION:

Last question, sorry. Did the Prime Minister break an election promise by not setting up a federal integrity commission?

MINISTER ROBERT:

We sought to deliver it. We created the legislation. We put it there for everyone to see. We said to Labor, support us and we will get it through. We have absolutely kept faith with the Australian people.

QUESTION:

Thank you.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Thank you very much.

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