Bandt push for free childcare as next step in Green New Deal plan

Australian Greens Leader Adam Bandt has outlined his vision for universal childcare as part of the Green New Deal recently unveiled after the change in leadership.

Mr Bandt said his goal is for universally accessible and free childcare and detailed a policy that would be the first big steps to this goal.


Mr Bandt has made childcare an important part of his building support for the Greens in his electorate of Melbourne with his office conducting and publishing regular surveys of childcare needs and availability in the electorate. He also has two children currently at an inner-city childcare centre.

The Greens’ plan has been costed by the PBO at $4.8bn in its first fully operational year and would be funded by winding back Liberal & Labor’s “tax cuts for millionaires” package.

Quotes attributable to Australian Greens Leader Adam Bandt MP:

“Childcare should be treated as an essential service. My goal is to see free childcare available to every family.

“The cost and availability of childcare is a gender equality issue, with women prevented from making real choices about their work and life.

“Too many families are stuck in the horrible bind where the cost of additional childcare eats up any extra you earn from doing more paid work. For many women and families, doing more paid work is a ‘break even’ proposition at best.

“We treat public schools as a universal service and it’s time to start thinking that way about childcare too.

“Given how highly qualified educators are now, childcare needs a government funding boost so that fees don’t keep going up for parents.

“Investing in childcare is not just in the best interests of our children, it’s essential to tackling gender inequality and the gender pay gap.

“The Green New Deal is about making sure no-one is left behind and everyone is treated equally.

“There are two key pillars of a Green New Deal, investing in new jobs and industries to grow a clean economy and expanding universal services to build a caring society.

“I’m passionate about delivering a Green New Deal that sees government taking the lead on tackling the inequality crisis and high-quality, universal childcare is a crucial part of that.”

Background

As the first big step towards universal childcare, the Greens have a fully costed plan to make 50 hours of childcare free for 80% of Australian families and abolish the activity test for access to the Child Care Subsidy.

Australia’s current public funding into early childhood education and care is the second worst in the developed world. We expect families to pick up more of the tab, across the board - and as a result, primary carers (who are overwhelmingly women) are having to give up work and career opportunities and not go back to work, because child care is simply too expensive when combined with the loss in child care subsidy.

A fair child care subsidy ensures that families don’t face barriers returning to work. It combines what’s best for the child with what’s best for the parent or parents - and it’s better for the economy, too. One recent report from PwC found a demonstrable benefit to expanding access to child care subsidies - thousands of people who want to work are working, and the economy is billions of dollars stronger than it would otherwise be.

The Child Care Subsidy will apply as follows:

Combined annual family income:  Child Care Subsidy rate of fees charged:
Up to $171,95 Stepped reduction from 100% to 50%
$171,959 to $251,248 Stepped reduction from 100% to 50%
$251,249 to $351,248 Stepped reduction from 50% to 10%



Subsidy rates would step down by equal reductions for each $3,000 increase in family income.