New data released today highlights early education and care fees continued to grow in the March 2016 quarter but the Turnbull Government has prevented the fee spikes of up to 14 per cent seen under Labor.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the Turnbull Government had reduced the fee increases but that it was clear the broken current early education and care system needs to be completely reformed.
Minister Birmingham said he noted media reports today about continued early education and care fee growth and said they highlighted the need for the measures outlined in the Turnbull Government’s child care reform package to put downward pressure on price increases and costs to families.
“While we have reduced the increases in child care costs for Australian families as much as possible within the current system, we need to go further. We need to fix this broken system with a complete overhaul. That is why our legislation before the Parliament brings in hourly rate caps to drive downward pressure on price increases,” Minister Birmingham said.
“The Turnbull Government has comprehensive child care reforms to address problems many hardworking families face. The current system isn’t working for them now and won’t in the future unless we achieve significant reform.
“That’s why the Turnbull Government’s early education and care reforms represent increased investment that will make the system more accessible, affordable and fairer for around one million Australians, with low and middle income families the greatest beneficiaries from the package. Our reforms will also give more support to those hardworking families who most need it, which will not only help those families but create a better environment for Australian parents who want to work or work more.
“We currently have before the Parliament the most significant reform of the child care system in 40 years and I encourage Labor to stop the political games, listen to the Australian people and get on board by passing the savings needed to fund our child care reforms.”
Minister Birmingham said these latest statistics drew “a line in the sand” for Labor who must now clearly stop blocking and instead support the savings needed to pass the Turnbull Government’s child care reform package.
Minister Birmingham said the Government would have a ‘laser focus’ on passing the savings needed to pay for our child care package when Parliament resumed.
“Enough is enough. Bill Shorten must stop speaking with a forked tongue on child care and instead of crying crocodile tears for families but blocking the solutions, he should back our reforms to provide low to middle income Australian families with child care relief.
“Getting support for the savings needed to fund our child care package will be one of the Turnbull Government’s top priorities when Parliament resumes and if Bill Shorten was really interested in helping Australian families Labor would stop the politicking and pass these savings.
“The Turnbull Government has put in the time to consult with parents, families and child care providers and listened to input from the Productivity Commission and two Senate inquiries to lay out a package to make child care more affordable and accessible for those who need it most.”
Media reports have also highlighted some centres or providers that charge abnormally high fees. Minister Birmingham said the average cost of child care across the country for 10 hours of long day care was $88, meaning the vast majority of families are paying well below some of the examples given, and the Turnbull Government’s rate cap deliberately aimed to put downward pressure on any future price increases for Australian families.
“The introduction of the hourly rate cap is firstly a necessary measure to arrest incessant child care fee increases and secondly will provide Australian families with a benchmark price so they have a reference point to hold providers accountable and from which they can expect prices shouldn’t dramatically exceed.
“While some parents will choose to pay above the cap for a variety of reasons, it will force most providers to manage their fee increases based on the support families will receive or face them moving to other child care providers that are.”
The Early Childhood and Child Care in Summary March quarter 2016 report can be found at: https://www.education.gov.au/child-care-update
Average and annual percentage change to Long Day Care hourly fees
Source: Department of Education and Training administrative data