The Government are blaming anyone but themselves for their stagnant Jobs for Families package, but the truth is clear - Malcolm Turnbull is pushing a complicated package with too many unanswered questions for anyone to make a serious assessment.
Early education and care providers and experts have used the Senate Inquiry hearing to raise their concerns about the complexity of the new system, and the Department still couldn’t answer basic questions about who will be impacted:
LABOR SENATOR FOR WA, SUE LINES: How many children will be worse off as a result of these changes?
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OFFICIAL: So I think we started that discussion during the Senate Estimates discussion, and in terms of numbers of families who may receive reduced subsidy for a variety of reasons..…
SENATOR LINES: Sorry Ms Wilson, I asked about children – I asked how many children will be worse off.
OFFICIAL: So you’re asking about children? … I don’t have the children numbers for you today, Senator.
LINES: Still not?
[SENATE INQUIRY INTO THE JOBS FOR FAMILIES PACKAGE, 4 MARCH 2016]
“The way in which the new three-tiered activity test eligibility system will work has resulted in much confusion and anxiety amongst many parents.”
[THE PARENTHOOD, SENATE INQUIRY INTO THE JOBS FOR FAMILIES PACKAGE, 4 MARCH 2016]
“The proposed activity test is very complicated, with four tiers and multiple exemptions… The result is that families will continue to find it difficult to understand how much support they receive from the Government, and importantly, how increasing their level of work might be assisted by the Government.
[EARLY CHILDHOOD AUSTRALIA, SUBMISSION TO SENATE INQUIRY]
“Explaining this process of calculating out of pocket expenses to families will be even more complicated than explaining the current system.”
[AUSTRALIAN CHILDCARE ALLIANCE, SUBMISSION TO SENATE INQUIRY]
“The Liberals clearly told families that they were simplifying the system and making it easier for families to understand – the reality is very different,” Shadow Minister for Early Childhood, Kate Ellis said.
“In today’s Senate Inquiry hearing we were told the Government has been talking and talking to stakeholders – but have they actually been listening to the feedback?
“For almost 12 months Labor has been asking how children will be impacted by child care changes, and yet Government officials are still incapable of answering the most basic questions including how many children will be worse off.
“Clearly, it’s not only parents and service providers who are confused by the package.”