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Government confusion on childcare rebate deepens.

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Tanya Plibersek MP Shadow Minister for Work, Family & Community Shadow Minister for Youth & Early Childhood Education Shadow Minister for Women

24 June 2005


The Government is in complete disarray over who is eligible for the proposed 30% childcare rebate.

Yesterday I asked the Prime Minister in Question Time why parents who work less than 15 hours a week will miss out on the proposed 30% childcare rebate.

The Prime Minister did not know.

To cover up the Prime Minister’s ignorance, the Treasurer was forced to put out a hurried statement last night, which contradicted his own earlier statements on the rebate, a statement issued by his Assistant Treasurer earlier in the day, and those made by the Minister for Family and Community Services on budget night.

The facts are:

• the Government announced in the Budget it would seek to change the work/training/study test for Child Care Benefit, effective 1 July 2006;

(The base level of participation required to satisfy the Child Care Benefit (CCB) work, training, study test will be altered…both members of a couple or a sole parent must demonstrate they have ongoing work, or work related, activity of around 15 hours a week - Senator Patterson, Budget Press Release, 10 May 2005)

• on 20 December last year the Treasurer announced that the rebate would be delayed by a year, and that only parents who met the work/training/study test for Child Care Benefit would be eligible;

(The Rebate will cover 30 per cent of out-of-pocket child care expenses…for taxpayers who receive CCB and meet the CCB work/study/training test - Treasurer Costello, Press Release, 20 December 2004)

• yesterday the Assistant Treasurer, Mal Brough, introduced the 30% rebate legislation to Parliament, re-affirming the rebate could only be claimed by parents who meet the CCB work/study/training test;

(The rebate will cover 30 per cent of out-of-pocket child care expenses…for families who receive Child Care Benefit and meet the work/training/study test - Minister Brough, Press Release, 23 June 2005)

• last night the Treasurer confirms that the CCB work/training/study test must be satisfied in order for parents to claim the rebate, and that the Government proposes to increase the CCB work test from 1 hour to 15 hours effective 1 July 2006;

• however, realising the massive political ramifications of continuing with the Government’s plan to deny the rebate to parents who work part time, the Treasurer now says he will introduce amendments to ensure the old work test applies for the purposes of claiming the rebate, even though the new work test will apply for the purposes of claiming CCB.

(The existing work/training/study test will still apply for rebate purposes from 1 July 2006 when the new CCB changes are to take effect. This will be achieved through amendments…- Treasurer Costello, Press Release, 23 June 2005)

The 30% child care rebate policy is in shambles, and the Government has been caught out trying to deny it to parents who work up to 15 hours a week.

This is a shockingly confused policy, which the Government is making up as it goes along.

Parents and taxpayers are the ones who suffer.

Taxpayer’s money is being wasted on advertising the 30% rebate even though it cannot be claimed for more than a year, and the Government still doesn’t who is eligible.

Childcare centres and parents remain completely in the dark about who is eligible for the rebate.

For comment, call Tanya on 0413 777 787 and for information call Mary on 0438 983 908