Interview on Channel 7 Sunrise with David Koch
Topics: New child care package; Newspoll
David Koch: Now, the government’s new child care funding system is now in place, but there’s still plenty of confusion out there over who’s better off, and more importantly, who’s now missing out. Under the changes, low-income families will be paid up to 85 per cent of the child care costs. Middle-income earners can expect about half their costs to be paid, while the highest earning families will receive around 20 per cent or nothing at all.
Joining me now is Education Minister Simon Birmingham. Minister, thanks for joining us. Look, change is creating a lot of confusion. In a nutshell, what are they?
Simon Birmingham: Well morning, Kochie. Change is never easy, but this is really important because it’s giving more support to more Australian families. What we are doing is getting rid of the $7500 cap on the Child Care Rebate for all families earning less than around $187,000 per annum. We’re increasing the rate of the child care subsidy – a single new child care subsidy. No more separate Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate. One new subsidy that’s activity tested and means tested, but is a light touch activity test. All you have to do is work, study, volunteer four hours per week on average.
David Koch: Okay.
Simon Birmingham: And the rate of subsidy is much more generous.
David Koch: So, if one parent is not working in paid work, this activity test, what do they have to prove?
Simon Birmingham: So, to be- to qualify under the activity test, four hours per week on average of working, studying, training, volunteering, looking for work, caring; four hours on average a week. It’s not a big activity test, but it is saying that to actually qualify for hours of subsidised child care, the taxpayers have a reasonable expectation that people will be making a contribution. Paid parental leave or indeed unpaid parental leave qualify as well, so that’s important for people who have their second child.
David Koch: And the hourly caps?
Simon Birmingham: Hourly caps, so that four hours per week attracts then 24 hours of subsidised- sorry, 36 hours, in fact, of subsidised care on average a fortnight.
David Koch: Okay, and you can still sign up. Go to the website, make the changes.
Simon Birmingham: You can absolutely still sign up and then of course the more you work, the greater the subsidised care you can receive.
David Koch: And just quickly, good result in Newspoll today for the Coalition. Bill Shorten’s sort of tax stance has- he’s been caned for that. Only a 2 per cent two-party preferred difference now.
Simon Birmingham: Yeah look, I mean obviously people look at what governments do and reforms like this on child care, what we’re doing is supporting around 1 million Australian families to be about $1300 per child per annum better off on average. So it’s a big difference and we’re able to do that because we’ve got a strong economy, because we can give back to people and ultimately whether that plays through into the polls, that’s for commentators. But we’ll keep working as a government to give that greater assistance, whether it’s in tax relief, better child care support, while still bringing the budget back to balance.
David Koch: Simon Birmingham, thanks for joining us.
Simon Birmingham: Thank you.