Thursday, 18 January 2018
SUBJECTS: Turnbull Government’s secret list of families who will be worse off under their unfair child care package, Parliament
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Joining me now live is Shadow Early Childhood Education and Development Minister, Amanda Rishworth. Amanda thanks for joining us, take us through the federal electorates where the greatest number of mums and dads will be out of pocket.
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT, AMANDA RISHWORTH MP: It is electorates that are not considered wealthy communities; we are looking at the seat of Blaxland in Western Sydney and Watson in Western Sydney, electorates in outer metropolitan Melbourne and indeed in outer metropolitan Brisbane. What we are seeing is communities right around the country, there are families that are going to find themselves come 1 July worse off as a result of the government’s child care changes. Of course the government has been trying to say that everything is okay, people are going to be better off and indeed they previously had released selective information about those who will be better off but what this information reveals is the majority of those who will be worse off are actually in the two lowest income brackets. We have got communities right around the country, thousands of families that come 1 July will have their access to early education and child care actually cut.
DE GIORGIO: The government has accused Labor of trying to waste tax payer’s money, subsidising child care for parents who are basically sitting around at home, the government insists though that only working families should get a subsidy though.
RISHWORTH: What the government fails to recognise is child care is a lot more than babysitting, it is about early education and we know that children thrive better with access to early education. The concept of the benefit for children seems to be completely irrelevant to the Minister which is very disappointing. But also this isn’t just Labor saying it, this has been peak organisations from around the country have started looking at this activity test and having indicated that it is likely to cut a lot of casual workers out, those that are in insecure work that are involved in seasonal work because of the strict activity test that will apply, so there will be a lot of families that have two parents working but won’t necessarily meet this activity test. Therefore a low family income will no longer gain any subsidy from the government. I think the Minister is missing the point firstly when it comes to those workers that may not meet his test but secondly for the important principle of children accessing early education.
DE GIORGIO: So are you suggesting that child care subsidies should then be going to families who are earning more than $350,000?
RISHWORTH: The data revealed shows that is not where the biggest cuts are happening. It is not the top end of town it is actually families- there are 88,000 families that they expect on the family income of less than $65,000, they are the families that are most likely to be cut under the government’s changes. Indeed the majority of families- as I said- are in the lowest two income brackets. The government would have you believe that Labor is just arguing for the top end of town- that is just not the case- what we are arguing is for those families that come 1 July that may have an income under $65,000 are actually going to get their child care subsidy cut and the government has not been upfront and honest with these families to tell them that that is exactly what is going to happen.
DE GIORGIO: Simon Birmingham did come out insisting that only working families should get a subsidy. Are you saying that struggling families will also be effected here?
RISHWORTH: Absolutely struggling families will be effected. What we are talking about, if you have a think about a casual worker; one parent has a regular income the other is a casual worker and cannot meet this strict activity test of eight hours per week; they might have insecure work, it might be sporadic- they will not necessarily qualify to get the subsidy, they are the families that we are talking about. There are other families- I have had examples put to me where there might be one parent working, the other parent may have one or two children or even three children under the age of five, they may be caring for an elderly parent as well- they will not necessarily qualify for support from the government. What we are talking about is significant numbers of low-income families that will be cut, these aren’t my figures these are the government’s figures and what Simon Birmingham has failed to be upfront and honest with these families. The other point as I mentioned is he really is just talking about child care and early education in the language of babysitting. We know that so much benefit comes from early education and early engagement and the Minister seems to be completely missing that point.
DE GIORGIO: I just want to move onto another topic here; former NSW Premier, Kristina Keneally has nominated herself as a Labor Party candidate for the Senate position, of course left vacant by Sam Dastyari in December. You are friends with her, do you support her Senate run?
RISHWORTH: There is a huge amount of talent in the Labor Party, Kristina is one of those incredibly talented individuals but it has got to go through the normal process within the NSW Labor Party and that is what will happen. I have no doubt that we will get an excellent representative from NSW appointed to the Senate that really will be focused in joining a Labor team that has to hold this government to account because they are failing Australians.
DE GIORGIO: Alright, Shadow Early Childhood Education and Development Minister, Amanda Rishworth- thank you for joining us this afternoon.
RISHWORTH: Thank you.