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$16 million band-aid on a $850 million cut.

$16 Million Band-Aid On A $850 Million Cut

 

Chris Evans - Shadow Minister for Family Services and the Aged

 

Media Statement - 17 April 2000

 

"The Government is now desperately trying to cover-up $850 million worth of cuts to child care with a $16 million band-aid," Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services Senator Chris Evans said today.

 

"Four years of policy neglect under John Howard has caused significant damage to Australia's child care system, damage that will not be repaired by a few 'nanny squads' in rural marginal seats," Senator Evans said.

 

"Child care is just one of the areas to have suffered as a result of the $5 billion cut from social programs under this Government.

 

"If the Government is serious about welfare reform and helping families it must do a lot more to repair the damage its funding cuts have done to a range of social programs.

 

"The $16 million a year in additional funding for child care represents just 1.6% of last year's child care budget. If each of Australia's one million shift-workers is eligible for the additional funding it represents a mere $16 a year in assistance.

 

"John Howard's cuts to child care include:

 

• freezing indexation of Child Care Assistance for two years - $84.8 million

• capping care hours - $187 million

• abolishing concessions for larger families - $77.7 million

• halving expenditure on child care for single parents undergoing retraining.

 

"As a result of these cuts parents' gap fees have risen by $20-$30 per child per week since 1996.

 

"Families using both private and community-based child care are finding it harder to afford because the Government is continually reducing Commonwealth funding - from $1,066 million in 1996-97 to just $935 million in 1998-99.

 

"Australia needs a comprehensive, carefully-designed plan to make high quality child care more affordable for low and middle income families - whether in the cities or the regions.

 

There are a lot of unanswered questions about the Government's child care proposal:

 

• how many hours of care will be provided by the scheme and who will be eligible for the care?

• what sorts of quality controls will be put in place?

 

The Government's 'nanny squad' scheme is an election gimmick without substance, cynically designed to soften John Howard's image. This is not a practical response to the real needs of families struggling to afford child care.

 

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.