Interview on Channel 9 Today with Georgie Gardner and Karl Stefanovic
Topics: The Turnbull Government’s child care reforms
Georgie Gardner: Well, they are the biggest changes to child care in 40 years, so how will they affect you and your family?
Here to explain is the Federal Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham. Minister, good morning to you. Just talk us through these new reforms and the savings that families can expect.
Simon Birmingham: Good morning, Georgie, Well, the Turnbull Government’s investing around $2.5 billion extra to provide more support for more Australian families. And for many families what this is going to mean is that the $7500 cap on the Child Care Rebate that they currently receive will be abolished for any family earning less than around $186,000 a year. Equally they’re going to see rates of increase in terms of the percentage of child care support. And all up for the 800,000-plus Australian families who have registered for the switchover already, the average benefit for those families equates to about $1300 per child, per annum, which really is going to make child care so much more affordable for them.
Georgie Gardner: There are concerns some families will miss out. How can they make sure they’ll receive the savings you talk of?
Simon Birmingham: The key message to Australian families is to register for the switchover. So, the new Child Care Subsidy comes into effect on 2 July. Many families are going to be hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year better off under it. So, there’s a real incentive to take that switch, and people should visit education.gov.au/childcare to update their details. It’s a simple 10 minute process, I’ve done it myself, you just update your family details, the level of work or study hours you do, the estimated family income. And it’s all quite automatic from there.
Georgie Gardner: Minister, the biggest concern is for families where one parent chooses to be at home to care for their children full-time. My understanding is they’ll be worse off under this new system, won’t they?
Simon Birmingham: We have put an activity test in place to make sure that the greatest number of hours of subsidised child care go to families where both parents are working, studying, volunteering, so that those who need those hours are able to access them to create a much fairer system than we have at present. But it’s a light touch activity test. People need only be working, studying, volunteering for four hours a week, and that can include reading to children and volunteering at your older child’s school, it can include, of course, other volunteering activities, and it can be averaged over a three month period. So, if you’re somebody who works part-time, and those hours are variable, you can average that out to make sure that there’s no disruption to the child care services your children can access.
Georgie Gardner: Alright, but just to clarify on that, anyone who chooses and wants to be a full-time carer for their children will not be penalised by this new system?
Simon Birmingham: Well, if you’re not working, studying, volunteering, caring or the like for four hours a week, then you won’t necessarily receive child care support. But we’ve done this to ensure that the subsidy is there for families who need it most. And our estimates are that around 1 million Australian families are set to benefit, and that around 230,000 people are likely to choose to work more hours, work more days, because child care costs will no longer be an inhibitor to them. And so, that’s really the nexus of this reform, to ease cost of living pressures and to empower Australian families to make the choices that work for their family without child care costs being a barrier.
Georgie Gardner: Alright, because you’ve suggested the current child care system is broken, are you confident this overhaul will fix that?
Simon Birmingham: This overhaul is going to fix real problems such as families who in March or February of any given financial year literally run out of child care support, they hit the current cap and then they have to work fewer hours or fewer days or pay through the nose for full tote odds child care.
We’re getting rid of that cap, as I say, for all families earning less than $186,000. Our estimates are that families will be hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year better off, and for the 800,000-plus families who have registered to date, we’re seeing already they data shows that on average they will be $1300 a year per child better off. And of course, that is going to make a big difference to their hip pocket, but also will empower them to choose to work that extra day if they want to.
Georgie Gardner: Alright, and it all kicks off, as you say, 2 July. Minister, we appreciate your time. And good to see a little bit of rain there in country South Australia, that would be a welcome sound.
Simon Birmingham: Very welcome pitter-patter of rain on the tin roof across the Mid North. That’s very welcome, and indeed families, education.gov.au/childcare to register.
Georgie Gardner: Alright. Thank you very much, Minister.
Simon Birmingham: Thanks, Georgie.
Karl Stefanovic: Geez, he’s fresh as a daisy, isn’t he this morning? I would like to have what you’re having for breakfast.
Georgie Gardner: Good country fare [indistinct].
Simon Birmingham: Not yet, I’m afraid.
Karl Stefanovic: Bit of grain.