Doorstop interview, Adelaide
- Minister for Education and Training
Topics: Turnbull Government’s new child care package
Simon Birmingham: Thanks for coming today. What we’ve seen today is a sign of embarrassing desperation from Amanda Rishworth and the Labor Party in their attacks on the Turnbull Government’s child care reforms. Our child care reforms are going to benefit around one million hardworking Australian families. They’re ensuring that these families will often be thousands of dollars a year better off as a result of increased subsidies and abolition of the $7500 child care rebate cap. This is about helping those families who are working the longest hours and earning the least amount of money.
Let’s look at some of Miss Rishworth’s claims and complaints today. Is she really suggesting that more child care subsidy, that more taxpayer child care subsidy should be going to families who aren’t working or even looking for work? Is she really suggesting – is Labor really suggesting – that more child care subsidies should be going to families earning more than $350,000?
What we’ve done is put an extra $2.5 billion into supporting the Australian child care system and reforming it to give more money to people working long hours. To give more money to people who are working long hours but earning low amounts of money, to make sure that they can afford to work the hours they choose, the days they choose without their child care costs being an impediment to them.
And I see ridiculous claims about some secrecy here. Well, since the second of June last year, we’ve had online a child care estimator that we encourage Australian families to go and visit to see exactly how our reforms will impact them and their household budget, so that they’ve been able to plan for the last six, seven months around the type of work commitments they want to commit to this year from the second of July when these reforms take place, knowing exactly how much support for their child care bills will be in their hip pocket.
Journalist: Well, she’s saying that these changes are going to hit those that are on low incomes? So you’re saying that that’s not the case at all? That no families that are struggling are going to be affected?
Simon Birmingham: Families who meet the activity test will see an increase in the amount of rebate they receive, and will see more than enough hours of child care available to them. What Amanda Rishworth is complaining about are families who aren’t working, aren’t looking for work, aren’t studying, aren’t volunteering. I mean, is the Labor Party really saying they want more taxpayer dollars to support child care for people who are sitting at home? Is that what they want? Because frankly, that would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. Now, early childhood education is critical and as a Government we’ve made sure we’ve supported a safety net in the child care subsidy for access to early childhood education, as well as our ongoing support for universal access to preschool. But we’re not talking about early education here from the Labor Party. We’re talking about the base child care system, and they seem to be saying and suggesting that they want to see more taxpayer subsidy going to people who aren’t working, aren’t studying, aren’t volunteering, aren’t even looking for a job.
Journalist: Why then did they need to put a freedom of information request in if all this information was publicly available?
Simon Birmingham: All of this information is publicly available. All they’ve done is use FOI to extract a different document and then claim that it’s some sort of great sensation, when in reality this is data and information that has been available to Australian families in terms of their personal circumstances for six or seven months, and information that has been answered and provided in Senate Estimates previously.
Journalist: So you’re saying that families will be better off under these changes?
Simon Birmingham: Around one million Australian families will gain, and those families who will gain the most are the hardest working families, working the longest hours but bringing home the lowest wages. We’re targeting our support to make sure that if you want a job, if you’re working hard, if you want to work more hours, you’ll get more child care subsidy. But if you’re sitting at home and not looking for a job, you won’t.