Doorstop Interview – Government’s child care policy

Sunday, 10 October 2021

AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: The announcement that the government’s made today is just a rehashed announcement from the budget, in which parents are going to still have to wait six months for, really, what is a dud child care package. Because of course, with the government’s child care package, only 25 per cent of families are going to get any relief. Compare that to Labor’s cheaper child care plan, which delivers relief to 97 per cent of families. And of course, Labor is committed to ensuring that as soon as we are elected, we deliver that. So our policy is a policy that helps many more families. Whereas the Liberal spin today is a policy that is a dud. It’s a dud because it only helps few families, it doesn’t help the many. Labor has been criticised for helping many more families, but we know that at this time, families are doing it tough. And for the Liberal Party to expect a pat on the back by announcing today that they’re going to make families wait another six months for any relief, really shows just how out of touch they are. I think my message to the Liberal Party and the government is stop playing politics, stop being fixated on announcements, and actually start delivering. Families are really struggling with the cost of child care. At the next election families are going to have a choice. The choice between the Liberals’ dud policy, which only provides relief to 25 per cent of families, or Labor’s policy that delivers relief to 97 per cent of families. And up until election day, we will be highlighting the difference, because we believe the majority of families are doing it tough. Whether you’ve got one child, two children or three children, everyone deserves relief when it comes to expensive child care fees.

REPORTER: So the changes will make it cheaper for about 250,000 families. How many families do you estimate will be left behind?

RISHWORTH: We believe there’s 750,000 families which will be left behind, and will not get any extra support when it comes to child care subsidy. And that is not even comparing it to Labor’s policy – 86 per cent of families are better off under Labor’s policy. So really what we have is a dud policy that only delivers for a minority of families. And of course, that benefit only occurs when you’ve got more than one child in care at the same time, so it doesn’t even last that long. This is really tinkering around the edges from the Liberal Party, and they want a pat on the back for bringing it forward three months – they’re still making parents wait another six months for any relief. This is compared to Labor’s policy that will help close to a million families.

REPORTER: What does the policy mean for people with only one child in child care?

RISHWORTH: For people with only one child in child care, they are going to get no extra relief with an increase in subsidy from this government. So m any families out there that are struggling with the cost of child care, with one child in care, will get no support, no extra subsidy from these changes, leaving behind many. And of course they will get support under Labor’s plan. But even people with two children in care, under Labor’s plan, they will get more support for each child compared to the Liberals’ policy.

REPORTER: Why do you think the government is bringing these changes forward in line with a likely March election?

RISHWORTH: Well look. The government plays politics with all of the issues when it comes to child care. They were dragged kicking and screaming to even come up with a child care policy. They’ve now put a substandard one in that doesn’t help the majority of families. I think really when we saw the budget come out, we thought that they’d be bringing these changes in in July, because we know families were struggling. Now they want a pat on the back for making families back nine months instead of twelve months. I mean this government is so out of touch. This announcement today is a reheated announcement of a dud policy. And you know, one can only assume that they are just playing politics to try and get bad news off the front pages of the papers.

REPORTER: So the Education Minister has criticised Labor’s policy, which lifts the subsidy to people with incomes, basically a threshold of $530,000. They say it’s a policy that will benefit millionaires. Is that true?

RISHWORTH: Firstly, no, it’s not true. What we are delivering is an increased subsidy for every family under the family income threshold of $530,000. That means people on a combined income of $65,000, low income families, will get a boost under Labor, whether you’ve got one child, two children, or three children. So the Liberal Party is really running a scare campaign when it comes to Labor’s child care policy, because they are admitting that their policy will not help as many people as Labor’s. So really, this is the government trying to duck and weave when it comes to the truth of what’s in front of us. In front of us you’ve got Labor helping families at every income level, with more support, with more subsidy, whether you’ve got one child, two children, or three children.

REPORTER: Inaudible

RISHWORTH: Well, I think this announcement today is all about politics. It’s all about politics and it’s all about spin from this government, really desperate to try and pull the wool over people’s eyes, that they’re helping families with the cost of child care. The truth is, families aren’t going to see any help for six months, and we could well have an election before then. When we have that election, there’ll be a clear choice for families that are relying on government support for child care. That’s Labor’s plan that really is a wholesale reform, helping 97 per cent of families, and the Liberal Party’s plan that really only helps a minority for that short time when families have two or three children in care.

ENDS

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