Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Beazley Admission on Childcare Workers Wages blows hole in Labor Claims

Kim Beazley, Labor and the unions are all over the place on child care and child care workers, Families Minister Mal Brough said today.

Mr Brough said Kim Beazley’s acknowledgment that he couldn’t guarantee wage increases for child care workers was a frank and honest assessment that also proved that Labor didn’t have a ‘silver bullet’ for labour supply pressures.

"Contrary to Mr Beazley’s attempt to deflect the issue to one of training, the fact is it’s about workforce supply. There are plenty of people undertaking child care training, but in a strong economy with low unemployment, there are fewer people to recruit from," Mr Brough said.

"Even the ACTU has blown a hole in Mr Beazley’s claims, by saying the issue is wages and retention rather than how many people you train.

"Yesterday, Labor’s Senator Penny Wong said higher wages were required. Today Kim Beazley has, quite rightly, admitted he can’t do that.

"Under Labor, when Mr Beazley was Employment and Finance Minister this wasn’t a problem because Labor had high unemployment on the one hand, and only half the number of funded child care places.

"We have much lower unemployment which means we also need to look at other sources of skilled labour supply, like migration, to complement domestic supply.

"Mr Beazley’s proposal to poach qualified people out of the sector to make them public servants to do policy would only make the labour supply problem worse."

Mr Brough said that the Howard Government had doubled the number of places in child care and doubled expenditure to around $10 billion over four years.

He also said that the Government had increased expenditure on skills training, including for child care workers as well as supporting industry efforts to recruit more.

"By comparison, Mr Beazley has belled the cat on his own Party’s child care worker plan because he has had to admit he can’t raise wages and he opposes skilled migration," Mr Brough said