The Government has managed something quite remarkable – 352 pages of legislation on its child care changes and it has still managed to hide even the most basic detail about how families will be impacted, leaving critical questions unanswered, including how many hundreds of thousands of families will be worse off.
The so-called “safety net” remains detail-free. Australian families have no clarity about who will be eligible for additional support and who will fall through the gaps, with key information about eligibility and important definitions not in the Bill. With vulnerable and disadvantaged children gaining the most from early education, this is an unacceptable lack of detail.
The only new information is confirmation that the Government has cut $300 million from the package before it has even commenced.
Labor will today call for a thorough Senate Inquiry into the legislation, with the Liberals secretive approach leaving too many unanswered questions about the impact on Australian families.
“After more than two years and three ministers, the Government has come up with a proposal which – according to the only publicly available modelling – will leave at least one in four families more than $1,800 per year worse off,” said Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Kate Ellis.
“Labor won’t be a doormat on these changes – early education is too important for children’s development and too important for families to be hashed by a Government that has no idea what it is doing.”
From the outset, Labor has been clear about the key principles which would guide our support for the package:
1. Any child care package must be based on the dual policy pillars of increasing workforce participation and promoting the best interests of Australian children;
2. Reform must address affordability issues and the out-of-pocket costs of Australian families - not just limit Government costs;
3. A restructured system must improve the accessibility of child care and give due consideration to the impacts that reform can have on investment decisions and waiting lists; and
4. Recognition needs to be given to the sector's current and future critical workforce issues.
“At this stage, the Government has not met these tests,” said Ms Ellis,
“It is absolutely appalling that after so long, the most basic questions about who will be worse off and if vulnerable and disadvantaged children remain unanswered. The Government can only deal in soundbites and spin for so long – at some point they need to front up and reveal exactly what they are hiding.”
WEDNESDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2015