Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg have been reluctantly dragged to announce a child care policy, after leaving Australian women behind since they were elected.
Disappointingly, the Treasurer has yet again missed an opportunity to fundamentally and permanently reform child care, provide a significant boost to women’s workforce participation and a boost to the economy.
Under Scott Morrison’s proposal, hundreds of thousands of families will miss out on relief compared to Labor’s Cheaper Child Care Plan.
The Government’s child care proposal will only lift the child care subsidy rate for families who have a second or subsequent child under five years old in the system.
By only providing increased subsidies for a second or subsequent child in the system, the announcement will make an already complicated system more complicated, and will cause confusion for families as to whether this reform will leave them any better off.
In comparison, Labor’s Cheaper Child Care Plan lifts the subsidy and smooths the taper rate across the board, regardless of how many children the family has or how old they are – leaving 97 per cent of families – or more than one million families – better off. By assisting 1 million families instead of 250,000, Labor’s child care plan would provide a bigger boost to the economy.
Three quarters of the families benefiting from Labor’s Cheaper Child Care Plan will miss out on any increase in their child care subsidy under the Liberals’ plan.
In addition, the many Australian families struggling under the cost of out of school hours and vacation care will not benefit at all from the Morrison Government’s lift in subsidy.
Families desperately need immediate relief from soaring child care costs, yet these changes are not even set to come in for over a year.
This is a Government that has been dragged kicking and screaming to any child care reform, after years of calls from Labor, Australian women and families, business leaders, economists and the early learning sector.
Less than a year ago Scott Morrison denied that child care costs were a barrier to workforce participation and boosting the economy.
The Government has failed to recognise families are struggling with the cost of child care now under the system that Scott Morrison designed has completely failed families in less than three years.
ABS data released last week showed out of pocket child care costs are at record highs and are now higher than they were under the previous system
In addition, the Treasurer’s announcement today does nothing to guarantee costs will remain low for families into the future.
The proposal misses an integral part of Labor’s plan, which is for the ACCC to investigate price regulation to ensure all benefit goes into the pockets of families.
Today’s announcement also neglects Labor’s clear ambition to move to a universal 90 percent subsidy, which would deliver long-term, meaningful reform.
Labor’s Cheaper Child Care Plan is a carefully considered, researched and widely endorsed policy that will benefit almost 100 per cent of Australian families in the system.
Even the Business Council of Australia proposed a policy almost identical to Labor’s last week due to the anticipated benefit for our economy.
The Morrison Government should have set their pride aside and adopted Labor’s policy, rather than this rushed and half-hearted attempt at child care reform.