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Minister defends 30 per cent child care tax rebate from ACOSS criticism; Shadow Minister does not support ACOSS proposal.

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Monday 6 March 2006

Minister defends 30 per cent child care tax rebate from ACOSS criticism; Shadow Minister does not support ACOSS proposal


TONY EASTLEY: The new Family a nd Community Services Minister, Mal Brough, has rejected the call from ACOSS to scrap the 30 per cent rebate on out of pocket childcare expenses, saying it wouldn't lead to an increase in childcare places.  


From Canberra, Peta Donald reports. 


PETA DONALD: The Federal Minister responsible for childcare, Mal Brough, has sprung to the defence of the yet to begin 30 per cent rebate on out of pocket childcare expenses. He rejects the ACOSS proposal to scrap it. 


MAL BROUGH: In principal, the point behind the rebate is that some families, and many families who receive no or little child care benefit, because of their income, can still benefit from the tax rebate.  


And if you're going to wind the two in together, which is what you're suggesting the ACOSS support is saying, then perhaps you run the risk of those people who are struggling to find childcare, at least anecdotally are struggling to find childcare in the central business districts of Sydney and Melbourne, may find themselves disadvantaged. 


PETA DONALD: The Opposition's childcare spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, welcomes some of ACOSS's ideas, but not the one to ditch the 30 per cent rebate. 


TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well, I think that child care has to be made more affordable for parents, and certainly I wouldn't support scrapping the rebate unless there's another system in place to make childcare much more affordable and much more available than it is now. 


PETA DONALD: So you don't like that idea? 


TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well, no, not unless ACOSS can come up with a solution that makes childcare more affordable and more available. 


PETA DONALD: Are you encouraged by the sounds coming from the Federal Government about what might be in the May Budget, to do with childcare? 


TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well, I certainly have heard Peter Costello making a lot of comments about childcare. I think that if… the only thing so far he's hinted that he'll increase out of school hours care places and perhaps make some change to fringe benefits tax. That's not enough. That won't be enough. If that's all that happens in the May Budget, then I'll be very disappointed. 


PETA DONALD: The minister, Mal Brough. 


Minister, are we likely to see some major childcare initiatives in the May Budget? 


MAL BROUGH: Well, look, I think one of the things that I'm very keen to do is to ensure that with the welfare to work coming into place, that we have the information available to parents of where the places are, so that if they're looking for work, that they're able to access that information via Centrelink.  


And that for a starter will ensure that the utilisation of places is maximised, and therefore parents have every opportunity to use the wide and varied number of childcare places that I've already spoken about. 


PETA DONALD: So you're talking there about more information. What about the overhaul and the massive increase in funding that, for example, Jackie Kelly - on the back bench - is calling for? 


MAL BROUGH: Well, look, we've already doubled the amount of childcare, out of school care places, and we've also made an extremely large investment to childcare. 


TONY EASTLEY: Family and Community Services Minister Mal Brough, speaking there with Peta Donald.