Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Swan picks new fight with Latham

Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, Wayne Swan, today picked a new fight with Labor Leader, Mark Latham, over child care workers wages, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, said.

“Last Friday, Mr Swan was forced to eat humble pie over his comments about scraping the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy. However, just two days later, he has contradicted Mr Latham by saying on Network Ten’s Meet The Press this morning that increasing child care workers wages is an ‘industrial issue.’

“Mr Latham has said that a Labor Government would increase child care workers wages. However, like all of his other so-called policies, his proposal is high on rhetoric and devoid of detail.

“For the first time, Wayne Swan is telling it like it is – child care workers wages is an industrial issue. However, Mr Latham is more interested in saying anything to get a vote, even if it does mean misleading thousands of child care workers.

“I have been saying for some time now that child care workers deserve better remuneration and recognition of the valuable role they play in caring for children and to address the difficulties in recruitment and retention of qualified staff in the industry.

“However, it is the role of the various State and Australian Industrial Relations Commissions to make decisions on pay and conditions. This Government has also given workers and their employers the option to negotiate individual agreements through workplace bargaining. It is important to keep in mind that this avenue would be taken away from child care workers should Labor come to power at the next election.

“Child care fees are an investment in children’s well-being and the financial and career aspirations of parents. Parents may also need to acknowledge that high quality care comes at a certain cost.

“Child care providers, whether they be community based, private or corporately owned, also have a responsibility to ensure their workers are remunerated appropriately.

“The Australian Government has been successful in its priority to make child care more accessible and affordable. We have also demonstrated that we are not resting on our laurels. Last December we boosted funding by $79.5 million to create more Outside School Hours Care and Family Day Care places and playgroups.

“I can also confirm that the upcoming budget process will look at the future needs of the child care sector,” Mr Anthony said.