ABC Radio Perth Breakfast – Labor’s Working Family Child Care Boost

Friday, 09 October 2020

NADIA MITSOPOULOS, HOST: Amanda Rishworth is federal Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education, good morning to you.

AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: Good morning.

MITSOPOULOS: So how would this actually help women increase their ability to join the workforce?

RISHWORTH: Well what a lot of women, and indeed any second wage earner, tell me is that when you look at the tax system and you look at the child care subsidy system, for many people working either the fourth or the fifth day means they actually lose money, so they’re worse off than actually only working three days if they have to pay for child care.

MITSOPOULOS: So this is about getting them back full time?

RISHWORTH: Well for some people it’s about getting them back full time. We are removing the cap and  the subsidy rate is supporting people back into the workforce, so those families with the lower income we’re looking to lift to 90 per cent subsidy. So there’s two elements to it, there’s lifting the subsidy which helps people get back into the workforce, and then there’s a productivity measure and a women’s participation measure that removes the disincentives to work more hours if you want to.

MITSOPOULOS: Okay, but will this plan prompt child care providers to hike their prices, is there anything in this plan to prevent that from happening?

RISHWORTH: That’s a really important question and what we’ve said is we’re going to get the ACCC to look at price regulation mechanisms. Because we do think it’s really important that this benefit should flow to families, so that certainly fits alongside this policy of a boost to working families.

MITSOPOULOS: Can you stop them doing that? You can’t really.

RISHWORTH: Well we can look at different mechanisms, in other areas there are mechanisms to stop excessive fee increases, for example in private health insurance. So there’s definitely different mechanisms that can look at price regulation. At the moment the government –

MITSOPOULOS: Wouldn’t the easiest thing be putting a cap on that.

RISHWORTH: Well that’s something the ACCC would have to look at and I think they are in the best place to design a price regulation mechanism, but that’s certainly on the table when they look at how we keep a lid on prices.

MITSOPOULOS: What about numbers, could this cause an influx and how do you see the child care industry coping?

RISHWORTH: That’s a really important question as well. At the moment we’re getting varying reports as a result of the pandemic there are some child care centres that are nowhere near capacity, and there are others that are. But we are giving notice. This plan is not looking to come in until, obviously if we’re elected, July 2022, so we are making our intentions very clear with plenty of time out there. If we are elected this is what we want to do.

In the long run though, what we’re going to ask the Productivity Commission to do is look at how we provide universal access with a 90 per cent subsidy to all families. That’s going to take some time in implementing and that will put a big demand on our services, which is why we’re looking at the Productivity Commission doing that work. But we also recognise families need a boost in the immediate if we’re elected and that’s what we’re going to do.

MITSOPOULOS: And we’d how do you pay for this?

RISHWORTH: If you look at what the government has spent they have spent a trillion dollars, they’ve got large deficits and what have they got to show for it? Is there any long term economic reform? What the evidence shows is that models like this can deliver to the GDP between four and seven billion dollars a year, and with that economic growth what you get is budget repair. When we’re growing the economy we do actually get more revenue as a country and so partly this is an economic reform measure. The government has spent plenty of money, they are announcing packages every single day with no offset at all and it isn’t delivering the type of economic return that the models have shown this will do.

MITSOPOULOS: What about workers and where do the workers come from under this plan? What will they be paid and will it be permanent work?

RISHWORTH: Of course we don’t run the child care centres, but we are looking at putting in the first stage of our plan for three years, so there is certainly some stability there in terms of the support families will get and therefore the demand that will come from that. In terms of workers, that’s a good thing. We know a lot of people are looking down the barrel of unemployment at the moment. There’s an opportunity to retrain and look at a different career path, so we would encourage that. If our plan was to be successful it would create more jobs and that’s a good thing. So that is certainly part of our plan, Anthony Albanese also announced that we would work with areas like child care and aged care to look at the industry supporting more traineeships in their areas so as they are studying and also working –

MITSOPOULOS: How many more traineeships, do you have a figure?

RISHWORTH: I don’t, what we know is at the moment there are a lot of people that are looking for work, this is a growing area so we’d encourage people to look at this as a career path.

MITSOPOULOS: We’ll leave it there and I appreciate your time this morning Amanda Rishworth.

ENDS

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