Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Labor’s ‘new’ child care policy – offering nothing new

Kevin Rudd’s ‘new’ child care policy offers nothing that will reduce costs and in fact Labor’s policy to insist on all carers having four year degrees will increase costs.

Given his record on support for parents, there’s no doubt that Kevin Rudd’s new found interest in families is about politics, not a genuine desire to help parents.

Only a few years ago, in 2004, Mr Rudd voted against giving parents a one-off $600 Family Tax Benefit (FTB) payment. He also spoke against improvements to the FTB system, including the introduction of FTB B for stay at home parents as part of A New Tax System in 1999.

So Kevin Rudd has voted against Government initiatives to increase disposable income for families.

Labor says it will:

  • Collect and publish data on child care costs and availability. Under the Coalition that’s been done and it will get better under the new Child Care Management System;
  • Make out of school hours care available to older children. Under the Coalition that’s already been done with no limit on the number of places;
  • Consider rolling Child Care Benefit and Child Care Tax Rebate into one payment. Under the Coalition Child Care Benefit increased in the last budget by 13 per cent and Child Care Tax Rebate has been made available to more families, sooner. Labor doesn’t guarantee families will receive more benefit. A combined payment to providers rather than parents will see taxpayer funded benefits sucked up by the sector with no return for parents.
  • Consider extending tax breaks for families using work-based child care. Under the Coalition, the majority of families are far better off through current subsidies, with a rebate of up to $4,211 available per child per year, plus Child Care Benefit, compared to the benefit of salary sacrificing with Fringe Benefits Tax exemption.

Mr Rudd has already admitted his re-announcement yesterday of 260 new child care centres on or near primary schools and plans to require ALL child care facilities, including small Family Day Care centres to have tertiary qualified staff, will do nothing to reduce costs.

“No, no, I’m not saying that at all. In the business of government we don’t run a magic pudding show, you don’t just keep pulling out, someone’s got to pay.” (Kevin Rudd on Today show (30th January 2007) when asked whether pre-school fees would be reduced as a result of Labor policy.

Labor’s rhetoric on child care is just that – rhetoric which even Kevin Rudd admits will not reduce costs.

Under the Coalition:

  • Annual spending on child care is almost three times Labor’s last year in office.
  • The number of approved child care places has more than doubled to 665,000 since 1996.
  • There are up to 139,000 vacancies on any given week day across Australia.
  • Average families on $60,000 using part-time child care for one or two children have up to 79 per cent of their fees subsidised through Child Care Benefit and Child Care Tax Rebate.
  • There has been a massive $2.1 billion boost into Child Care in the recent budget

It’s no wonder the Australian Financial Review today noted that Mr Rudd “offered no new details on how Labor would fund more child care places or put downward pressure on fees”.

Bills opposed by Kevin Rudd:

  • A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Bill 1999
  • A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Consequential and Related Measures) Bill (no. 1) 1999 (Hansard 13th May 1999)
  • Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (more help for families–one-off payments) Bill 2004 (Hansard 12th May 2004)
Average fee by State
Centre based long day
Care services $
247 239 215 222 229 221 265 214 233
Family day care
(excluding in home care) $
223 216 202 220 192 227 242 227 214

Source:  2006 Child Care Census (preliminary weighted data)