Media Release by The Hon John Cobb MP

Rudd embarrasses Labor on Child Care

John Cobb, acting Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, today said that Kevin Rudd’s comments on child care prove the Australian Labor Party, under his leadership, is still a policy ‘hit and miss’ zone when it comes to child care.

‘Mr Rudd has blundered by ignoring the fact that his own party’s minority report opposed tax deductibility for child care, said Mr Cobb.

‘Added to this is his laughable suggestion that Labor will provide more qualified staff to reduce the costs of child care’.

Mr Rudd says he wants to reduce the cost of care by having more workers while at the same time his Shadow Minister, Jenny Macklin, is proposing measures to increase the cost of workers and care by requiring child care workers to have four year qualifications.

Note to ALP – the two are incompatible.

‘Requiring workers to have four year qualifications will reduce the number of available workers while increasing the cost of care to parents – unless Mr Rudd is proposing lower wages for the child care sector, said Mr Cobb.

‘Mr Rudd further proves his ignorance of the current child care environment by highlighting the possibility of employers in a shopping centre being able to band together to provide child care for their employees – they already can under the current FBT laws.

‘Even more embarrassingly for Mr Rudd is the fact that this ‘possible’ policy stance is one that has been in place for nearly two decades. It was the ALP in fact who made the current FBT laws and those exemptions that apply to child care – the basis of bipartisan policy since then, said Mr Cobb.

‘Between Mr Rudd’s confusion over tax proposals and the question of whether to increase the costs of workers or decrease the cost of workers it is obvious that Labor is still all over the place when it comes to child care’.

While the Labor Party maintains its confusion, the Howard Government has doubled the number of funded child care places from 300,000 to 600,000 and doubled the investment in child care to over $10 billion over four years. This commitment is evident in the fact that there were over 120,000 child care vacancies around Australia early this month.