POLITICS

Senate Hours Extended As Government Hopes To Push Through $1.6 Billion Childcare Package

The Turnbull Government has split the mega $4 billion omnibus savings bills.

22/03/2017 10:22 AM AEDT | Updated 22/03/2017 12:49 PM AEDT
Fairfax
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visits a Canberra childcare centre as he hopes his childcare package will pass the senate.

CANBERRA -- The Turnbull Government has split the mega $4 billion omnibus savings bill in a bid to get previous federal budget measures, including a $1.6 billion childcare package, passed before the next budget.

And the government has extended the sitting hours of Senate to midnight tonight and tomorrow and through Friday in a bid to pass the measures.

The Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and Social Services Minister Christian Porter want the new split bills passed through Parliament this week.

But it is already looking good for the government, with influential senator Nick Xenophon indicating he and his two senators will support a renamed the Social Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 designed to bring in budget savings worth $2.4 billion over the next four years which has been introduced on Wednesday.

Other elements of the now former omnibus bill, including a four week wait for young people to get the dole, are expected to be repackaged and introduced later, while the childcare package can be found here.

The savings measures, introduced Wednesday, to pay for the bulk of the $1.6 billion childcare package have been revealed as a freeze over the next financial year to the Family Tax Benefit rates worth $1.3 billion.

Labor and the Greens complain they have not seen all of the savings measures the government is trying to pass.

The government insists it is being "practical".

Pauline Hanson's One Nation had formed a roadblock for the government, issuing a statement earlier on Wednesday, attacking the $3 billion welfare aspect of the Omnibus Bill as cutting "too hard, to (sic) broadly and too deeply into the hip pockets of Australian families".

"As it stands now Pauline Hanson's One Nation will not allow this Omnibus Bill to pass," the statement read.

So the Omnibus Bill has lost a serious amount of weight.

Earlier, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Education Minister Simon Birmingham visited a childcare centre.

"We are working through you to make sure we get an outcome," Birmingham told reporters in Canberra.

"We face challenges in workforce productivity and participation where childcare costs are a barrier. We are fixing that through these childcare reforms.

"We face problems, though, in terms of the size of the debt and deficit scale we face and we are addressing that through spending restraint and through the types of savings measures identified and we are seeking to progress them both."

Turnbull also pressed on.

"As Senator Birmingham has said, we continue our discussions with the crossbench," he said.

"We've had a lot of success in the past in circumstances where even members of the press gallery have predicted that we would have no success, so we will continue."

And the Treasurer also talked up the childcare reforms, without confirming the imminent splitting of the Omnibus Bill.

"We are a practical government. We've demonstrated that," Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

"We work with the Senate that the Australian people have elected.

"We have been very upfront with the parliament about the savings measures that we believe are necessary and they will ultimately make a decision on those."

"We are practical government. We will just get on with it."

Asked specifically by HuffPost Australia if the government has a deal sorted to ensure the passing of the childcare package, Morrison indicated negotiations are still underway.

"We will continue to pursue that outcome that I have set out," the Treasurer said.

"The outcome we want is to ensure that Australian families have more affordable childcare and that we achieve that without driving up debt and driving up deficit."

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