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Family First calls for new $4000 annual childcare payment for all families.

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MEDIA RELEASE SF/188. Sunday September 16, 2007


The focus of this election should be helping families, which is why Family First is today calling for a new annual Childcare Payment of $4000 a year to be given to ALL families with children under five.

Australian parents should decide how best to care for their children and the new $4000 a year Childcare Payment will let them choose the childcare they want.

The Childcare Payment will replace the Childcare Tax Rebate - which has been a mess and dogged by problems. Further, the Tax Rebate only goes to families which can afford exorbitant childcare fees, and many cannot.

"Instead of a tax rebate, the new Childcare Payment will be paid fortnightly to families over a six-month period, which is much easier," Senator Fielding said.

"This means families will get, for six months of every year, fortnightly payments of $308, until their children turn five.

"And the best thing is that families can spend the Childcare Payment on the childcare that suits them."

Family First wants to fix and improve the Childcare Tax Rebate by: • Increasing it to $4000 a year, for every year until children turn five; • Giving it to ALL families, not just those who can afford exorbitant childcare fees, and; • Making it a fortnightly payment over six months, meaning families would

receive $308 every fortnight for the six-month period.

"Most Australians believe children under five are better off with a full-time parent looking after them," Senator Fielding said.

"The simple reality is that parents are the best carers for pre-schoolers and the $4000 Childcare Payment will help parents enormously.

"Some working parents will be able to work a few hours less a week and spend more precious time with their kids. Some families will opt for institutional childcare if that suits their needs but many others would prefer to pay a grandparent, friend or neighbour to look after their kids in their own home."

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports an estimated 22,000 grandparents in Australia care for grandchildren full time.

Senator Fielding said the Childcare Tax Rebate had been a mess and had to go.

"Parents using 'approved care', who are trying to claim the rebate, hit bureaucratic roadblocks and are annoyed by having to deal with two Government departments," he said. "Some families have had to wait up to two years."

Currently, the average Childcare Tax Rebate is $813 a year and only about 193,000 families receive it, which costs a total of $157 million. The maximum families can receive is $4000 a year.

The benefits of Family First's Childcare Payment for families are: • No waiting until end-of-year tax time - the Childcare Payment will be paid automatically and fortnightly over six months ($308 every fortnight); • Every family receives the payment - not just those who can afford

exorbitant childcare fees, and; • It is not prescriptive - families can decide for themselves the type of childcare that best suits their needs.

There are almost one million Australian families with a child aged under five. Giving them all the Childcare Payment would cost about $4 billion a year, which excludes savings from abolishing the Childcare Tax Rebate.

"Of course that is a lot of money, but it makes sense to give taxpayers money back to Australian families which are struggling to make ends meet and have the hardest job of all, raising children," Senator Fielding said.

"Childcare is a huge issue in Australia and we need to do all we can to support Australian families caring for children, particularly when their children are young."

For media enquiries phone Chief of Staff Felicity de Fombelle on 0409 550 446