Government Releases Productivity Commission Inquiry into Child Care and Early Childhood Learning
Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Scott Morrison has today released the final report of the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Child Care and Early Childhood Learning.
“I am pleased to release the Productivity Commission’s final report into Child Care and Early Childhood Learning that delivers on the Coalition’s election commitment. The Report will provide a key input to the Government’s new families package, that will begin with a new set of support arrangements for child care and early childhood education,” Minister Morrison said.
“The Inquiry was the largest review of child care since the 1990s and the Commission has done an excellent job drawing together a wide range of input from families, service providers, early childhood education professionals, businesses and other experts to identify the challenges and potential ways forward.
“I thank the Commission for their work and the thousands of Australians who embraced this once-in-a-generation opportunity to work together to build a better child care and early childhood education system for Australian families.
“The Australian Government currently spends almost $7 billion a year to support families to access quality and affordable child care. It is important that these taxpayer resources are spent in the best way to enable families to stay in work, get back to work and give their children the best possible start in life.
“We understand that families should not be faced with the choice of either leaving work when they have children or going back to work just to pay for child care.
“We want to see more families get into work and stay in work when they have children, enabling them to create more economic opportunities both for their own families and the nation.
“For middle and low income families, in particular, the decision to go back to work is not a choice, but a necessity, if they are to maintain their standard of living and not get caught in a welfare trap. The Commission makes a strong argument for greater targeting of support to these families.
“Many families find the system difficult to navigate, inflexible and outdated. The Commission report identifies a consensus that this assistance must be simpler and better targeted to ensure it meets a central aim of helping families stay in work and get back into work when they have children.
“It also provides advice on how these services can be accessed at an affordable price by ensuring assistance does not lead to further price increases due to the way payments are made and suggesting a benchmark price to moderate cost increases.
“It is important to note that the Commission’s proposals were based on a broadly budget neutral position, with a modest funding increase. Any measures going beyond those outlined in the report would naturally require increased funding.
“The report also acknowledges and supports the important contribution of the National Quality Framework, however notes that this scheme introduced by the former Government also increased the costs for families and taxpayers alike.
“Under the previous Government child care costs for families and taxpayers increased by more than 50%.
“The Commission’s report puts the economic objective of increasing labour force participation, especially for mothers, back squarely in the centre of the child care policy agenda.
“The Productivity Commission findings are a report to Government, not a report by Government.
“We will now as a Government, take the opportunity to listen to the community’s response to the Commission’s proposals as we frame the Government’s response. Government members of parliament will play a key role in drawing together this feedback.
“The Government will also continue to consult directly with the child care sector, stakeholders, and opposition parties as we work to build a consensus for change in the release of our child care package.
“This consensus must not only be on the composition of the package, but how any changes are funded. To this end the same rules apply to everyone, Government and opposition alike, any increases must have clear sources of funding or savings offsets,” Minister Morrison said.