28 April 2019

Subjects: Labor’s plan for cheaper child care; Migration.

BASIL ZEMPILAS: Labor Leader Bill Shorten is this morning making his biggest funding announcement of the election campaign. It's $4 billion in additional funding for child care with 1 million families to get thousands in subsidies. 

EDWINA BARTHOLOMEW: And Bill Shorten joins us live from Melbourne, good morning to you Mr Shorten. Let's get straight to the detail of this…

SHORTEN: Good morning Edwina.

BARTHOLOMEW: Who qualifies for the money? How much will they get and is it paid to parents or to child care centres? 

SHORTEN: The subsidy will be for parents. If your household income is up to $68,000 we will provide a 100 per cent subsidy up to the capped amount of $11.77 an hour, so 100 per cent. If your household income is between $68,000 and $100,000, the subsidy is going to rise to 85 per cent of what you pay. And then between $100,000 and $174,000 the subsidy will be somewhere between 85 per cent down to 60 per cent. What this practically means is that for the first time after six long years of Liberal government where child care prices have gone up 24 per cent, where we hear stories of mums basically having to contribute most of their wage to their child care, this is a game-changer to help cost of living for nearly a million families, and it’s just going to make one of the biggest pressures on the family budget will be less.  In a real term, in a dollar term per year Edwina, it’s somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000 every year which families will have which won't be going on child care costs. That’s a real help to the family budget.

BARTHOLOMEW: That is a huge help. Mr Shorten on that last point is it paid to parents or to child care centres? How does it work?

SHORTEN: Well we want the subsidy to go to the parents and what we're going to say to child care operators though is that we don't want them ramping up the prices. I think this is important point to make. We get that if you provide greater support for parents, there might be some child care operators who miraculously increase the fees by the subsidy which we are providing. So we're going to ask the ACCC to monitor prices. And what’s more is that if we see that there is some rent-taking, profit-taking by the operators, well then what we're going to do is we're going to contemplate price controls. So in other words, before operators can increase fees, they’ve got to get the approval of the government. So we want to make sure that the money gets to the pockets of the families.

ZEMPILAS:  Alright Mr Shorten it sounds terrific, $1200 a year saved by almost a million working families. On the surface as I said sounds terrific -

SHORTEN: Up to $2000, yeah.

ZEMPILAS:  But where will the money come from? How are you going to pay for it?

SHORTEN: We can afford to do this because we are making the tough economic decisions. We want multinationals to pay more tax. We are winding back the money that we give and negative gearing to property investors. It is a very straightforward proposition. It is about a choice. Do we want to be a country who gives taxpayer subsidy to someone to buy their sixth investment property, or do we want to help everyday Aussie families, a million of them, with the cost of child care. My view is that investing in child care is a better investment than giving a tax reward to someone who is buying their, you know multiple investment properties. So that is how we pay for it.

BARTHOLOMEW: Lots of families will be looking at that policy very closely this morning. I want you to have a look at this one, the Coalition is this morning announcing that it will cap Australia's refugee intake  at around 19,000 - that's half of Labor's planned increase. They say over-population, city congestion are the reasons. We’ve seen past elections turn on the issue of immigration. Do you think this could be a vote-winner for the Coalition.

SHORTEN: Well under Scott Morrison, immigration has gone up, not down. I mean, this is politics. It is not about migration. Did you know Edwina that in Australia this year alone under the Liberals, there are 1.6 million people from overseas with visas which allow them to work in Australia, 1.6 million. So, Mr Morrison if he was fair dinkum would be talking about that and how we train Australians to do the jobs, rather than rely on 1.6 million people from overseas who have got visas which give them work rights. This is about politics, it’s not about migration. Pure politics.

ZEMPILAS:  Alright Mr Shorten you both get the chance to be fair dinkum tomorrow across in Perth, the first leaders’ debate being broadcast on the Seven Network tomorrow and we’ll see you there.

SHORTEN: Look forward to it, cheerio.