Subjects: Coronavirus and Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package
Lawrence Mooney: Yesterday afternoon Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that parents who were working through the COVID-19 crisis will receive free child care, under a $1.6 billion Federal Government plan to keep children in care. Also, children who have been taken out of care, their parents no longer need to pay. The Federal Government says it expects one million families will benefit from the temporary overhaul of the child care system, which will begin from this Sunday night. It’s great news for a lot of parents who are strapped for cash at the moment. Education Minister Dan Tehan said the plan aims to keep parents at work and child care workers in their jobs. He joins us this morning on Moonman in the Morning. Good morning to you, Dan.
Dan Tehan: Good morning. Great to be with you.
Mooney: Great to be with you too. This is a massive help for families struggling to keep their jobs, or who have taken a pay cut, or have lost their jobs and looking after their children. But, it means that children in care, but also at home, their parents no longer need to pay. Is that correct?
Tehan: That’s correct. So, as of next week there’ll be free child care for those who are working, all those essential workers. And, as the Prime Minister has said, during this time, anyone who’s working is an essential worker. We want to be able to offer them the support to be able to continue to use the child care centres that they rely on to care for their children, while they’re at work. And, also, we want to make sure that those vulnerable children who get a continuity of care through child care, that they can continue to be looked after. And, also, what we want to do is encourage all those people who, for reasons – whether they might have been economic or a bit of uncertainty around the health implications – to reengage with the child care centres, and make sure that they build that relationship back again. So, they can use their centre during the pandemic. But, also, when we come out of this, we’re ready to go again on the other side to really get our economy going.
Jess Eva: Dan, this is genius. We were speaking with a child care worker, and she was in tears just knowing that her job was safe. She was worried about children – a couple of kids that were vulnerable in her centre, and she knows that they’re going to be cared for. What if you don’t have your child in, in care? Can you now enrol them for free?
Tehan: You can, and you should approach the nearest centre to see whether there’s availability there for you to be able to take up a position. We obviously want to prioritise all those with existing relationships, and who are, who are working, and then those vulnerable children who are being looked after in those centres, and those that already have a relationship. But, if there’s spare capacity in the system and availability, then we want people to engage who haven’t before. And, the Department of Education will be helping and assisting those who want to engage to be able to find spots.
Mooney: It’s very important for parents to be able to put their kids into care and, of course, to protect the vulnerable. There was a child care worker that said she was surprised that child care was still open, considering it’s a real petri dish of germs spreading. How do you respond to that?
Tehan: So, we have the very best medical experts in Australia who are advising the Federal Government. So, that advice, when it comes to schools, when it comes to child care centres, is that it’s safe for those facilities to remain open, and that it’s safe for your children to be there. And, now, we continue to get updated advice from this medical expert panel that’s made up from experts with every state and territory, and the Commonwealth. Their clear understanding, and the clear direction that they’re giving at the moment, is that it’s safe to have your children at child care and at schools.
Mooney: Now, here at Triple M, Dan, we like to help the community too and, so, we’re helping an unemployed bloke by the name of Malcolm Turnbull. He’s just dropping in to finish off these interviews. So, Malcolm’s going to ask you a question. Now, come in here, Malcolm.
Thank you very much, Moonman. Hello to you, Dan Tehan. I remember you.
Tehan: Hello, Malcolm.
Mooney: We haven’t spoken for a while. Now, I’m just wondering, in that final spill, did you vote for me or did you vote for ScoMo? Where did you cast a vote?
Eva: Good question.
Tehan: So, Malcolm, that is a very important question. I’ve always had a position ever since I’ve been in the Parliament that I will always support the leader. And, that’s been the position I’ve had since day one, because I think the office of Prime Ministership is so important, and, if the Australian people voted for a Prime Minister in …
Mooney: … Good on you …
Tehan: … we’ll do everything we can to stick with that Prime Minister.
Mooney: Well, then, I’d like to extend an invitation to you, Dan Tehan, up to the Point Piper. Come and join me and Lucy for some foie gras and a nice bottle of sangiovese. And, good on you. Keep educating the people that go to the public schools. I mean, private school’s the way, but you’re doing a terrific job.
Tehan: That’s very kind of you, Malcolm. And, I don’t know whether I’ll be able to get up to Point Piper in the future because of everything we’re dealing with, but I look forward to staying in touch with you.
Mooney: In the spring – October or November – Dan. The invitation’s open, and thank you for joining Moonman and Jess this morning.
Tehan: That might be good. I’d love to get up there for a few race meetings there in the spring. So, I might be able to call in and say hello.
Mooney: Absolutely. Come up for a punt. Good on you.
Tehan: That’d be great.
Mooney: Bye now.