CANBERRA, AAP – Access to affordable, quality early childhood education and care is a concern for families, not just women, according to a senior Liberal.

“We seem to have an issue in this country when talking about childcare that we automatically go to ‘this is a woman’s issue’ and it is not,” Liberal senator Hollie Hughes told the ABC on Wednesday.

“It is a family issue.”

She said the debate should be about parents making a choice about how they raise their children.

“There are a lot of people that choose to go back to work because they are not, dare I say, cut out to sit at home and watch Bluey,” Senator Hughes said.

Labor’s shadow assistant treasurer Stephen Jones has accused the Nationals of a “war on childcare” after a coalition member at a party room meeting described childcare as “outsourcing parenting”.

“They hate childcare. They hate the people who use childcare. And they hate the people who work in childcare,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“As far as the National Party are concerned the role for women is to be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.”

Parliament continues to grapple with a safer, more respectful working environment for women.

The return of Barnaby Joyce as head of the Nationals has been slammed by some state leaders amid fears the party will bleed female votes.

WA Nationals leader Mia Davies says Mr Joyce needs to rebuild trust.

She spoke out against Mr Joyce three years ago when he was ousted as leader after having an affair with ex-journalist and former staffer Vicki Campion, now his partner and mother of their sons Sebastian and Thomas, and a sexual harassment allegation which he denies.

As a father of four daughters, Mr Joyce says he wants women in every section of society to have the best opportunity and the safest environment in which to live.

Mr Jones said Scott Morrison needs to speak up.

“(It’s) time for the prime minister to stand up to these lunatics in the National Party who are trying to drag us back to the last century,” he said.