SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Child care costs are a real problem, which is why our Government has taken it seriously, gone through a proper process of getting the Productivity Commission to analyse all of the factors in the child care system. And we are perusing the most comprehensive reforms to child care funding and support that the nation has seen since child care subsidies and rebates were introduced. We're applying reforms that will keep a downward pressure on prices, by having an hourly fee cap that is uniform across the nation, that is designed to try to keep child care prices down, while we apply a new child care subsidy regime which gives the most support to those working families who most need it. So the more hours a family works under the new child care subsidy, the greater the level of support they will get. The less income they earn, the greater the rate of subsidy on their child care rates they will get. This is an incredibly fair reform package, and my plea to the Labor Party today, is that if they are genuinely concerned about the child care costs and availability in Australia, step out of the way, pass our savings measures and allow the child care reforms to pass and become into law. Because that way through $3.2 billion in extra spending that we can make sure we give the support Australian families need for child care. 

QUESTION: Well, many of your changes won’t come into effect if things go well until mid 2017. What is the Government doing in the meantime to ease the pain and let the pressure on those families?

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: We provide millions of dollars in child care subsidy payments already, and what I would urge Australian families to do, if they are seeing costs like some of those reported in the eastern states’ newspapers, that they should shop around, that they should quiz carefully about what it is they are paying for. Now, I know there are real cost pressures out there, which is why we are applying a new rate of child care subsidy that we hope to get through the parliament this year, which we then hope to have applied from 2017, which will really ease the burden for working families. We’ll ensure that for families earning between $65,000 per annum and $170,000 per annum, that they will on average be around $30 per week better off. That’s a great gain for working families who rely very heavily on childcare support to make ends meet and to justify going into the workforce. So we accept well and truly that there are issues to be dealt with in child care. We are dealing with them, but Labor at present are all complaint and no solution. Only the Turnbull Government has a plan to fix the costs of child care in the future and I call on the Labor Party to get on board and support our child care reforms. 

QUESTION: And Labor is saying the increase of $200 a day for child care is just too much for families to afford. What’s your response?

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well our modelling suggests that the average child care service in Sydney in 2017 will be charging around $10.75 per hour. That’s a long way off what’s been quoted in today’s papers, so I don’t necessarily accept those figures. And if they are being charged in some instances, they are clearly outliers, and that’s why I would encourage parents to scrutinise very carefully what they’re being charged and quiz those sorts of service providers. Overall though, we are going, in our reforms, to apply an hourly fee limit of te- of $11.55 per hour, which is going to be applied to try and keep a downward pressure on prices so that there is actually a clear signal in the market place of what Government thinks a generous level is. And that is a generous level. It will ensure that around 85 per cent of services are covered and guarantee that for those families, they will be supported to the full extent of their subsidy that they’re entitled to under the child care subsidy regime. 

Minister Birmingham’s media contact:       Nick Creevey, 0447 644 957
James Murphy 0478 333 974
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