Doorstop interview – Melbourne

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT:  Well, today’s CPI figures have shown us what many families know – that the cost of child care, the out of pocket costs, are out of control. Today, in just one quarter, we’ve had the out of pocket cost of child care rise by 2.2 per cent. That’s in comparison to 0.6 per cent for the Consumer Price Index. Of course, we also know that these results show that the so called “once in a generation” reform made by Scott Morrison to the child care system, that any benefit from that, on average for an average family, has been completely erased. This government’s system is broken. We are now seeing families pay the highest child care out of pocket costs than they ever have before. This is a really serious issue right around the country. And we do know that families are struggling, that these figures today show that more money is having to come out of families’ household budgets to cover the cost of child care. Now, it’s just not good enough when we have an economy that needs to get back on its feet, that families are having to choose between not working because the cost of child care is too expensive, or having to find more money out of their pocket to pay for child care. We need this government to act. Labor has a policy that improves the cost of child care for 97 per cent of families, that will help families get on top of the cost of child care. Our plan which will remove the cap and smooth taper rates will make the cost of child care cheaper. And this will be critical for the economy to get back on its feet.

It’s not just families that feel the impact of the high cost of child care, it’s also a business who want to see their workers return to work, but often cannot get workers to return, particularly women, because the cost of child care is just so high. What the figures have also shown today, that there’s been a 3.7 per cent increase in the out of pocket costs over the last year when it comes to child care. Compare that to the CPI figures that have only jumped 1.1 per cent. That is significantly higher. So we know that this is affecting families, we know that this is affecting businesses, we know the high cost of child care is also holding back our economic recovery. In this budget, it is now time for the government to admit that their previous system is broken, that their so called “once in a generation” reform has not worked, and they need to go back to the drawing board and fix it.

REPORTER:  Anecdotally, what are you hearing from child care operators and parents that you’ve talked to about the cost of child care?

RISHWORTH: Well today I heard from a parent that said to me that they are now working out the sums, they need to work out at how much they can go back to work when their second child goes into care. This dad was telling me that already they have one child in early learning, but are having to work out how much the mum can go back to work when the second child goes into early learning. And they were saying that the cost is just too great, that they will not be going back full time because of the cost. And we’ve heard from child care operators today that the annual cap is kicking in now, so many families are having to pay the full cost of child care with no subsidy whatsoever, because they’ve exceeded the annual cap. And therefore they’re going to make the hard decision of whether they work less until the end of the financial year, or whether they just have more out of pocket costs. This is a real live issue for families right across the country. Anecdotally, they are screaming out for more support. But importantly, the figures today show that the impact of the increased cost of child care is being borne by families and more money is having to come out of the family budget just to cover cut child care costs.

REPORTER: Have we seen that reflected in attendance at all? Are there less kids in child care or they’re going for less days?

RISHWORTH: What we’re hearing from parents is that they are choosing to go back to work less. So when they’re looking to go back after they’ve perhaps finished their maternity leave, the second income earner, who is usually a woman, is making that difficult choice about whether to go back less days. And what the evidence shows is that going back on the fourth and fifth day will actually cost many families money, so it’s actually not worth going back to work on the fourth and fifth day as a result of the cost of child care. So certainly parents are telling us that it is affecting their decisions about how much they will go back to work after the birth of a child.

REPORTER: What are you expecting the effects of this to be?

RISHWORTH: What we know is that if we improve the cost of child care and implement plans similar to Labor’s plan, it could be a benefit of between $5 and $11 billion. That is a significant boost to our economy at a time when the economy really needs it. So we will see a boost in women’s workforce participation, a boost in economic growth, and really importantly, see businesses being more productive. So this has a huge potential to unleash a whole lot of economic growth, and importantly boost women’s workforce participation and productivity in our workplaces around the country. So the economic benefits could be huge. The government is failing to act on it, and as a result, is keeping a handbrake on our economy.

REPORTER: Can I ask you about the behaviour of Andrew Laming. In this latest article he’s come out and blamed ADHD (inaudible) bullying these women online, taking a photo of another woman as she works. And also came out two days ago after his empathy training, and said that he’s not sorry for anything.

RISHWORTH: I am really disappointed with Andrew Laming using a diagnosis of ADHD to effectively excuse his bad behaviour towards women in his electorate. Quite frankly, it’s an insult to those Australians with ADHD that Andrew Laming blame his abhorrent behaviour on his diagnosis. It is also incredibly disappointing that Andrew Laming will not take responsibility for his bad behaviour, his abuse online, and of course taking pictures without permission. This is not the behaviour of an MP that should be endorsed. And really, while Andrew Laming stays a Member of Parliament, this whole Morrison government cannot be taken seriously when it comes to the treatment of women.

REPORTER: What would you say to the Prime Minister he pretty (inaudible) the Prime Minister about empathy training and about what Andrew Laming has come out and said? Basically he just says, I’m not sorry, I’ll do it again (inaudible).

RISHWORTH: Andrew Laming’s refusal to take responsibility and actually apologise for his actions I think it shows that empathy training is not that useful when you have MPs that don’t have empathy. I mean, quite frankly, a job of a Member of Parliament should be to empathise with the community. So my message to the Prime Minister is it’s time that Andrew Laming steps down from the Parliament. It is time to make way for proper representation in the seat of Bowman, so that the constituents of Bowman can get a Member of Parliament that understands their issues and can represent them in the Federal Parliament. Quite frankly, while Andrew Laming stays a Member of Parliament, refusing to take responsibility for his actions, refusing to apologise to those people in his electorate that he has hurt, this government cannot be taken seriously on the treatment of women.

ENDS

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