Interview on Channel 9 TODAY with Sylvia Jeffreys
Cracking down on child care rorters; Newspoll

Sylvia Jeffreys:             The Government will today introduce further measures in Parliament aimed at stopping dodgy day care providers rorting the system. It’s hoped the crackdown could save hundreds of millions of dollars. 

The Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham, joins us now from Canberra. Minister, good morning.

Simon Birmingham:     Good morning Sylvia.

Sylvia Jeffreys:             What do the new measures involve?

Simon Birmingham:     Well these measures will see crackdowns in terms of the age of children that family day care providers can claim subsidy for, as well as the level of price that can be charged in relation to some special benefits that are available for grandparent carers or in special circumstances. And what they will really do is ensure that people aren't getting away with charging $40 or $50 an hour for care – outrageous prices – or claiming unreasonably for the care of a 16-year-old in a child care setting, which clearly is not suitable or necessary unless there are very special circumstances.

Sylvia Jeffreys:             How big is that problem currently?

Simon Birmingham:     Well it’s a problem that we estimate through our actions will save around $250 million, and that comes on top of about $1 billion worth of savings we’ve generated previously through other reforms to crack down on dodgy family day care operators, so this is a significant issue. We are taking the action. But of course it comes at a time where we are also seeking to put through the Parliament comprehensive reforms of the child care system to give more support to hard working, genuine families, and these savings are an important part of that approach.

Sylvia Jeffreys:             So these new measures that you are tabling this morning, do they fall under your broader child care reform package which Labor has vowed to block?

Simon Birmingham:     These measures we can do under the existing legislation. So we are acting now, doing this now and cracking down on these reforms. But to give the higher levels of subsidy we want to give to low income, hard-working Australian families, to get rid of the child care rebate cap of $7,500 that many families fall off a cliff in regards to, that needs the legislation to go through the Parliament and we are committed to keep working with that and we only hope that Bill Shorten and the Labor Party have a change of heart and help us get the child care reforms through the Parliament.

Sylvia Jeffreys:             Well Nine News will certainly follow developments on that front this morning. But before you go, Minister, I have to get your reaction to today's latest Newspoll. The Coalition is in free fall while support for One Nation continues to surge. Malcolm Turnbull's approval rating, it is down four points this morning. You must admit, the PM is in big trouble.

Simon Birmingham:     Well, it is less than 12 months since the last election, and our sole focus is to continue to get things done that matter to Australians. I don't think Australian families care about opinion polls. Australian families care about whether we can get childcare reforms through that make their lives easier, whether we can deal with the problems in the electricity market, whether we can generate more jobs through our company tax reforms that we are trying to get through the Parliament. So we will resolutely stick at the job and the task at hand which is to help families and hard-working Australians, not be distracted by opinion polls.

Sylvia Jeffreys:             Well the PM certainly cared about opinion polls when he toppled Tony Abbott. Minister, but we have to leave it there for now. Minister, we appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

Simon Birmingham:     Thanks Sylvia.