17 June 2014

Labor will not support the Abbott Government's chaotic, contradictory and confused approach to women's workforce participation put forward in the Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Child Care Measures) Bill which is currently before the House of Representatives.

In an unprecedented move, the Abbott Government is seeking to freeze indexation, not just the non means-tested Child Care Rebate (CCR), but also on the income thresholds of the means-tested Child Care Benefit (CCB).

This Bill seeks to cut $336 million from child care support that low and middle income families Australian families currently rely on.

"At the very same time as pursuing a multi-billion dollar Paid Parental Leave scheme accessible by millionaires, the Abbott Government is moving to cut modest, targeted and means-tested child care support from families earning as little as $42,000 a year. It is an extraordinary demonstration of this Government's wrong priorities," Shadow Minister for Early Childhood, Kate Ellis said.

"This Government must be seriously deluded if it thinks families only need support for the first six months."

The Education Department estimates the changes to CCB alone will leave over 500,000 families worse off, but that is where the information stops.

"The Government is attempting to rush these changes through Parliament before it's even done its homework, without any idea of who will be impacted, where they live, what they earn and the impact this measure will have on workforce participation," Kate Ellis said.

It is important to note that the CCB has never before been frozen, that it is specifically targeted at those families who may otherwise leave the workforce, and that these cuts are aimed squarely at those who can least afford it.

Tony Abbott is also undermining his own Productivity Commission review into child care, by attempting to make these drastic cuts just weeks before Parliament views the draft report into Australian child care.

"It is pure hypocrisy for Tony Abbott to set up a review looking at making childcare more affordable, while repeatedly cutting programs and reducing the assistance available to Australian families.

Any responsible government would not even pursue these wide reaching CCB changes without understanding the full impact, without receiving its own Productivity Commission review report, and without letting families have their say.

Labor will move an amendment to remove all references to CCB from the Bill. We will also demand the Government does its homework, consult the community and allow Parliament to first see the Productivity Commission report before even contemplating these ad hoc attacks on family income.

If the Government refuses to split the CCR and CCB provisions of the Bill, Labor will vote against the Bill in its entirety.