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4BC Breakfast with Neil Breen

Senator the Hon Amanda Stoker


Subjects: Floods, Child care, Submarine base

NEIL BREEN: I want to talk child care now with Amanda Stoker. She’s the Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, also Assistant Minister for Women and for Industrial Relations. But you can’t have a political conversation at the moment without asking someone – particularly if they're from Southeast Queensland –how they faired in the floods, and her office is in Springwood. Good morning to you, Senator.

AMANDA STOKER: Good morning, Neil. How are you doing?

NEIL BREEN: I’m well thanks. I know that your office in Springwood is near the IKEA that flooded. What was it like around there?

AMANDA STOKER: The office was fine but the area generally has sustained some pretty bad damage. And over the last few days I've been out, particularly with Bert van Manen’s office in Forde, doing clean-up duties and delivering food parcels to those who are less mobile. A lot of people suffered a lot, but one thing that's very encouraging is just how many people have helped their neighbours, particularly Logan Lightning Football Club at the weekend. To see so many young blokes really enthusiastically helping their community is actually pretty heart-warming.

NEIL BREEN: Yeah, it is. And that's the thing about the Mud Army this year, you had to register and all that sort of stuff. The Mud Army, really, is just people going next door, down the road with a mate to the mate’s grandma's place, whatever. That is the Mud Army.

Hey, Senator, I do need to talk to you, though, about the child care. Now, what's happening today is there'll be increased child care subsidies for families with one or more child aged five and under in child care. What are these subsidies and how will they benefit?

AMANDA STOKER: Yes, spot on. From today, 57,000 Queensland families will get their child care a lot cheaper, as we recognise how hard it is to make the cost of child care balance with what you get from work, when you've got a number of young kids. So, if you've got more than one young child under the age of five, and you'll be up to $370 a week better off. And that means more than $2,260 better off a year. You don't have to fill out any forms, no paperwork, its automatically done through the existing childcare subsidy arrangements. And it's just one of the many ways we're trying to make life easier for families, recognising that feedback we get about how sometimes when you got a number of young kids, it can almost feel non-viable to go back to work. But we want to keep women's skills fresh. We want to make it worth women being in the workforce. And this is showing in the fact that we've now got women's workforce participation at the record level of 62.1 per cent, which is really good news.

NEIL BREEN: Yeah, because this is the- don't worry, Amanda Stoker, I know exactly what you're talking about. My wife and I have been through it. When you have one kid in childcare, you bat on. You put the mouthguard in and think ‘Oh yeah, it's expensive, but it's worth it.’ Then you get a second kid in childcare, and you go ‘hang on a second, I'm actually out of pocket for going to work.’ You get a third one, you're in big, big trouble. And it is at that time of life that women lose touch in the workplace and that brings about wage anomalies. And it leads to also the superannuation gap between the husband and the wife widening. I know, Amanda Stoker, it's real.

AMANDA STOKER: Absolutely. And look, my husband and I've got three kids. For a while there we had three under four, so we've been in the trenches too. But having this in place is about recognising just how tough it is to get through those periods – both in the financial and in the, you know, parental survival things. But it's also about us making sure that we continue to invest in women through this time, and the families that they are a part of, so that they can reach their potential, financially, in a career sense, make the biggest contribution possible from their skills over their life course. And of course, when you partner that with the fact that last December, we remove the annual cap on childcare subsidy – it used to be, you know, for a family earning about $190,000, once you got to $10,655 a year, you didn't get any more-

NEIL BREEN: That's right.

AMANDA STOKER: We took that cap off. So that means that you don't lose that once you've sort of done a certain number of days per year, you can just keep on going. Again, recognising the fact that the Morrison Government is sort of shoulder-to-shoulder with families as they go through what is a rewarding but definitely gruelling time of life.

NEIL BREEN: Before I let you go, Amanda Stoker, the Prime Minister is going to announce today Newcastle, Port Kembla, and Brisbane are the spots for nuclear subs. Would you like nuclear subs to be in Brisbane?

AMANDA STOKER: Look, I would. I'm a big believer in the value of nuclear technology, both in the defence space, and I think it's something we should, for the long-term, explore in the energy space. But this development requires a long-term investment in sub-technology. I want to see that expertise, those resources, come to Queensland. And of course, provide a partner to the subs base that Australia has in WA. It’ll be a very good thing for the state, and of course a very good thing for our capacity as a country to not only defend itself but become an influence for good throughout the region.

NEIL BREEN: Senator Amanda Stoker, thanks for your time this morning.

AMANDA STOKER: Good on you, Neil. Thanks a lot.