In yesterday’s Advertiser, Senator Birmingham extolled the virtues of his childcare reform. I agree that is desperately needed.
In fact, the Senator is part of a Coalition government that first promised parents reform to childcare and relief from the huge costs they incur for their children’s care and early learning back in 2013. We’re still waiting.
Not to forget, of course, their promise of a gold-plated Paid Parental Leave scheme and a ‘unity ticket’ on the National Disability Insurance Scheme. If he thinks parents have forgotten, he’s sadly mistaken.
His piece yesterday sought to excite us about coming changes, but also to warn us that without deep cuts to those most unable to afford them, these changes might not happen. While he tells us that FTB recipients will get ‘up to an additional $20 per fortnight per child’ he fails to add that he wants to remove the annual supplement (leaving primarily single parents $200 per child per year worse off).
He says he wants to ‘increase Government-provided parental leave pay from 18 to 20 weeks for almost 100,000 low-income families’ but fails to mention that he wants to cut it from thousands of other parents who have forgone pay rises at work to negotiate a paid leave scheme from their employer - leaving these parents thousands of dollars worse-off.
Before the 2013 election the Coalition were on a ‘unity ticket’ with Labor about the NDIS, but now individuals and families who are desperately awaiting its arrival in their town, are told that it just won’t happen if the Coalition can’t cut the Newstart payments of young people who are unemployed.
It takes a particularly tone-deaf politician to assert that childcare cost relief and security and independence for disabled Australians is dependent upon cutting the already small incomes of some of the most vulnerable members of our society, while his side of politics is arguing vehemently to maintain their gold travel passes post retirement. Is that who we want to be?
Parenthood members were unequivocal when we asked them. Of those who would personally benefit from two extra weeks of government Paid Parental Leave, over two-thirds said they wouldn’t do so at the cost of another mum’s time with her bub. If they had to take time from another parent to gain their two weeks, that cost was far too high. Because we know that parenting is hard and we want to support those doing it toughest, not tear them down.
Senator Birmingham says the childcare reforms and the NDIS must be paid for and he’s right. But parents are quite rightly wondering if the proposed $50 Billion in business tax cuts may be a better place to begin.