Interview - 2UE Drive with Justin Smith - high cost of childcare

  • Assistant Minister for Education

2UE - Drive [Justin Smith]
Fri 29/08/2014 15:38

SUBJECT: Interview with Sussan Ley, Federal Assistant Minister for Education, about the high cost of childcare.

JUSTIN SMITH: Sussan Ley is the Assistant Minister for Education. Ms Ley, hello?

SUSSAN LEY: Hello, Justin, nice to be on your program.

JUSTIN SMITH: Thank you, I - that thing I said about not trusting politicians, forgive me, just forget I said it.

SUSSAN LEY: Well, I used to work for a shearing contractor in Outback new south Wales and everyone said [indistinct], so I think it's a variety of professions.

JUSTIN SMITH: Yeah, don't ever - yeah, that's right, don't ever get them - don't ever trust those shearing contractors, you're right. Ms Ley, thank you for your time. I wanted to talk to you because you're - you want to allow people to have a say about childcare and it's important because there is a story around today that people are just finding it way too [audio skip] to be able to look after their children, because it's too expensive. Is it too expensive?

SUSSAN LEY: It's rapidly becoming unaffordable for a lot of families and I was talking to some in Kellyville just this afternoon and the conundrum is: well, I can't afford to stay at home because I need to go back to work, but I can't afford to go back to work because of the cost of childcare. So families do these complicated sums around two days, three days and all of this [indistinct]...

JUSTIN SMITH: [Interrupts] Yeah. I can afford two, but I can't afford three, yeah.

SUSSAN LEY: And not only that, I've got to build my work around my childcare; not my childcare around my work, which is actually what it should be. So, the system we're working with is pretty close to breaking point, that's why we're got a Productivity Commission inquiry underway, with new policy solutions coming to the Parliament in the new year.

JUSTIN SMITH: Can I ask, if you don't mind, Ms Ley: why do we need a Productivity Commission report? This is nothing new that has been ex... that it's been too expensive and becoming, as you say, rapidly unaffordable. Why do we need to look into it again? This is not new.

SUSSAN LEY: It's not new, it's been developing for some years, but we wanted an economy-wide perspective which the PC can take, because it's about workforce participation, usually women, and it's about what our economy is missing out on as whole, but also, if you think about it, the childcare settings we're dealing with today belong to a generation ago when work was nine to five, five days a week. Now, work is 24/7, seven days a week. The modern economy is so different. So, we thought, we'll get the Productivity Commission to do a whole review of the whole system and bring forward some - you know, some bold, brave initiatives [indistinct]...

JUSTIN SMITH: [Interrupts] Yeah. You...

SUSSAN LEY: I don't want to tweak around the edges here.

JUSTIN SMITH: No, no, I know, but you see what the concern here is, that this is not new, this is something you would have known in Opposition and you should have maybe been coming in and hit the ground running on it. Is this - please tell me it's not a stalling tactic?

SUSSAN LEY: It's not and we did hit the ground running with the Productivity Commission inquiry. We had it as a policy we took to the election; we asked them to get their skates on, on Day One. We gave them until October; the final report comes down then. Everyone will have had their say. If you're redesigning the system, you've got to do it properly. So when I say new initiatives for Budget 2015, I think that's responding to the problem and as I said, coming up with bold, brave recommendations. But, if you're going to do it, you're going to do it properly and that's what I'm determined to do.

JUSTIN SMITH: Yeah, alright, look I'll move on from it, but as I say, the people put you in place, put you in government because they thought you had a few of those brave and bold things. But I understand it. Look, what can people do? If they want to comment on this, if they've got something they want to say, how do they do it?

SUSSAN LEY: They can log on to the Productivity Commission website, follow the link to childcare and it's as simple as sending an email. We can get - we've got formal submissions and piles of paper, but we've also got about 800 emails that people have sent, probably on their way to work and back when they've got five minutes, and they're just as relevant and just as important. The final report, as I said, comes down in October, but please have your say before September 5.

JUSTIN SMITH: Yeah, no fair enough. Thank you very much for that, I appreciate it.


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