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Amendment: National Skills Commissioner Bill 2020

Our amendment on sheet 8975 is very similar to the government amendment which has just passed, and it was one that Dr Helen Haines introduced in the other place. I seek leave to withdraw that amendment.

Leave granted.

The PRESIDENT: The question now is that the amendment on sheet 8977 revised, circulated by the Australian Greens, be agreed to.

Australian Greens' circulated amendment—

(1) Clause 9, page 6 (after line 16), after subclause (3), insert:

Requirement for vocational education and training representative

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Speech: National Skills Commissioner Bill 2020

I rise on behalf of the Greens to speak to the National Skills Commissioner Bill 2020. The bill before us today implements one of the key recommendations of the Joyce review, which is to set up a skills commission at the core of the skills system. The Joyce review examined Australia's vocational education and training system to strengthen skills and reported in March 2019. The National Skills Commissioner Bill 2020 establishes a new statutory office to be known as the National Skills Commission, which is to be headed by the National Skills Commissioner.

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Motion: university job losses

I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) Australian universities are facing massive losses in revenue as a result of falling enrolments during the COVID-19 crisis, and

(ii) universities across the country have begun to announce job cuts, with up to 30,000 jobs expected to be lost;

(b) calls on vice-chancellors to prioritise retaining staff, including those on casual and fixed-term contracts, in their responses to revenue losses, and

(c) calls on the government to include all universities in the JobKeeper scheme.

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Motion: Make Early Learning & Childcare Free

I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

   (i) the government has decided to scrap free childcare and begin forcing parents to pay expensive childcare fees again from next month,

   (ii) this move will force many parents to reduce their work days or remove their children from care,

   (iii) childcare is an essential service which should be universally available for everyone, and

   (iv) the move away from free childcare will disproportionately impact women;

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Speech: Childcare

I can honestly say that I would not have been able to complete my masters and PhD, nor embark on a career in engineering or academia, and then eventually state and federal politics, without access to affordable child care. When I migrated to Australia from Pakistan in 1992 and commenced my studies at the University of New South Wales, I pretty quickly realised that the available child care in my area was just unaffordable. It was too expensive. And that's how I got involved in a campaign to establish affordable student-centred child care at the university.

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Speech: Taking Note of Response to Childcare Questions

I was deeply disappointed, but not entirely surprised, to see free child care scrapped by this government after just two months. Ending free child care is a huge mistake. Thousands of families have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis and now have to make some very hard choices. Many stakeholders have come out to express their shock and disappointment with the transition package, the scrapping of JobKeeper or the end of free child care. These include centres, peak bodies, parent groups and the union movement.

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Question Time: Childcare

Senator FARUQI (New South Wales) (14:22): My question is for the Minister representing the Minister for Education in the Senate. Minister, free child care has hugely benefited thousands of Australian families. While the package rolled out certainly had its faults and needed to be fixed, it was a signal that the government might start to recognise child care as an essential service which should be free and available to all and not just for those who can afford it.

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Greens Push To Support Unis Defeated By One Vote

The Australian Senate has narrowly voted down a Greens motion to disallow parts of the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Amendment Rules (No. 2) 2020 that have the effect of excluding universities from accessing the JobKeeper wage subsidy.

The vote was defeated 30 votes to 31.

The Greens, Labor and Centre Alliance voted for the motion; the government, One Nation and Senator Lambie opposed it.

Senator Faruqi said:

“Universities are being smashed during this pandemic and the government has refused to throw them a lifeline.

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