SUBJECTS: Labor’s Cheaper Child Care Plan; Optus data breach
MONIQUE WRIGHT: Well, Labor's election promise for universal child care will be introduced to Parliament today in a policy that has been compared to Medicare and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The legislation aims to give parents greater subsidies and provide more certainty that their child can get a place. Now, if it passes, the legislation is set to revolutionise the way that children in this country are educated and cared for, but its passage through Parliament is not guaranteed.
For more, we're joined now by Education Minister Jason Clare. Welcome to you. Thanks for being with us. The Nationals leader, David Littleproud, his main gripe about this is that parents that are earning $500,000 a year or more, that they shouldn't be getting any child care subsidies. Under the current scheme, it caps it at $400,000. He's got a point, hasn't he?
JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: If you earn more than $530,000, you don't get the subsidy, so I don't think he understands the policy.
WRIGHT: But if you're getting up to $500,000, is 7 per cent covered?
CLARE: Well, the way it works is if you're on, say, $60,000 a year, then you'll get a 90 per cent subsidy, which means effectively about $14,000 in taxpayers’ money if you've got a child at child care for three days a week, so that's a big help for people on small incomes. If you're on, say, $500,000 a year, the subsidy is 6 per cent, not 90 per cent, it's 6 per cent. And the support you'll get from the Government is around about $970. So, it tapers down depending on how much you earn. The vast majority of this is designed to help people on lower incomes, particularly mums, to get back into paid work after they've had a child.
WRIGHT: That's going to have a huge impact on the economy. You must have run the numbers there to have all of those mums and dads to be able to be back in the workforce.
CLARE: Yes. Treasury's estimates are that by doing this it will mean that effectively the equivalent of up to 37,000 extra skilled workers back in the workforce. I've talked to Kochie and Nat about this before. Lots of businesses are screaming out for skilled workers. There's lots of mums and dads who've had children they're at home caring, it's not worth working a fourth or a fifth day, because that all gets gobbled up with child care costs.
So, if we can cut the cost of child care, it will mean that a lot of skilled workers will be back in the workforce. That's why this is a big, important policy. It's why we made it a key part of the election campaign. And as you say, we're introducing the legislation to implement it today. It'll mean that more than 1 million Australian families will have the cost of their child care cut.
WRIGHT: Okay, that is big news. Just want to talk to you about the other big news today. And that is, of course - we've been talking about it all morning - about the Optus privacy breach here, what needs to happen here to make sure that this doesn't happen again. And are you going to bring about some change here so that Optus gets a bloody big fine?
CLARE: Well, Optus needs to beef up their security, for a start. It's pretty obvious that it's not up to scratch. I think this is exposing that the Federal Government needs more powers here as well. Claire O'Neill, the Minister for Home Affairs, has made that point. She's looking at what extra fines need to be in place as well. The fact is, you've got about 10 million Aussies who have had their information stolen last week, and about 2.8 million Australians have had, in effect, about 100 points of identification stolen from Optus. And there'd be a lot of Aussies that are pretty anxious this morning. The Minister and the Government have been working through the weekend to make sure that people don't get their money stolen out of the bank. So, we're working with banks, working with Optus on that. Our security agencies have been working around the clock to make sure that that happens, but this is bloody serious and we're taking it seriously.
WRIGHT: What a mess. All right, thank you very much, Jason Clare. As always, appreciated.