Child care, enterprise bargaining top jobs and skills summit agenda


Here’s a quick wrap of developments from the jobs and skills summit that’s underway in the nation’s capital.

You can find out more about what the summit is and its aims here.

This list will be updated throughout the day.

You can jump to the topics you want to read by clicking below.

Childcare reform

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has urged the federal government to speed up its promised childcare reforms.

The proposed changes mean families with a combined income of up to $80,000 would receive a 90 per cent childcare subsidy for their first child.

Every family with an income up to $530,000 would be eligible for some support.

Unions and advocacy groups have been lobbying for the reforms to be brought forward to January, arguing it will help to address skills shortages. 

Premier Andrews said the current childcare system did not work, and it had never been more important to improve access for working families.

“Making child care work for working families has never been more important – not just because it’s the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” he said.

“There’s probably no greater economic opportunity for us as a nation than getting this right, we should just get on with it.

“If this was an ore deposit we would have dug it up long ago and WA would have got all the royalties and a GST deal.”

Annastacia Palaszczuk, Natasha Fyles, Daniel Andrews and Andrew Barr have a discussion in the Great Hall of Parliament House
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews joined those calling for childcare reform to be brought forward to January.(ABC News: Luke Stephenson)

Speaking ahead of the summit, Minister for Finance and Women Katy Gallagher said achieving equal pay and opportunities for women were at the centre of the two-day event.

“In the election campaign, we put our largest investment into child care which is the other side of looking at addressing women’s participation in the workforce, that’s going to be delivered in the October budget,” she said.

“That’s a $5 billion investment, it’s not insignificant.

“I’m trying to deal with a whole range of good ideas right across government at the moment.”

The Business Council of Australia and Australian Council of Trade Unions have jointly called for an extension of paid parental leave from 18 to 26 weeks.

Asked whether the government would support that, Minister Gallagher said the state of the budget limited the government’s ability to fund all ideas.

“The Treasurer and I are also absolutely cognisant of the fact we have massive deficits and a trillion dollars of debt, so yes, we are looking at all of these and I wish I could fund every good idea that had merit.”

Enterprise bargaining

Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke has announced progress on several areas of reform to the Fair Work Act.

Business and unions have been at loggerheads on the changes, but both sides flagged a willingness to participate in future discussions during the first day of the summit.

Business has now opened the door to a conversation on developing legislation on multi-employer bargaining, a change pushed by the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

In response, unions have said they will participate in similar conversations on changes to the Better Off Overall Test.

That test has meant proposed variations to agreements have stalled if one hypothetical person was left worse off.

Business, union and community leaders sit in rows of tables and chairs that fill Parliament House's Great Hall.
More than 140 business, union and community representatives have converged on Canberra for the government’s jobs and skills summit.(ABC News: Luke Stephenson)

Minister Burke said the proposal was substantially different to that of the former government.

“It’s about how do you keep the concept that people can’t go backwards but take away a whole lot of the complexity in how that is interpreted,” he said.

“I have a very clear boundary on any discussion [and] I have no interest in anything that causes wages to go backwards.

“It goes further than that [hypotheticals] but that’s certainly one of the issues that people are legitimately raising.”

TAFE places

Federal, State and Territory governments have agreed to bring forward 180,000 free TAFE places to next year in a bid to address skills shortages.

Of the 180,000 places, 60,000 are new and the remainder are existing places that will be made free.

The free places were originally planned to be rolled out over four years.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said they have been brought forward given the desperate need for skilled workers.

“We’re taking action now with a billion dollar training blitz,” he said.

“We want to see more Australians gaining the skills they need to gain good jobs in areas of national priority.”

States and territories agreed to evenly split the $1.1 billion bill with the Commonwealth.

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