Prime minister says universal child care would be a ‘national asset’ as $10-a-day push grows

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun13,2024
Key Points
  • An Australian think tank has outlined a path to reforming the country’s childcare system.
  • It supports a proposal to make child care cost Australian families $10 a day, or free for low-income households.
  • Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has welcomed the “important contribution” to the debate.
A pitch to reform Australia’s “broken” childcare system could mean Australian families pay as little as $10 a day for the critical service, or nothing at all for low-income households.
In March, childcare reform campaign Thrive by Five spearheaded the proposal for childcare fees to be slashed to $10 a day, under a plan to make it a “universal right”.
Think tank the Centre for Policy Development has built on political momentum to move towards a universal childcare system, charting a path to get there in 10 years.
The Albanese government has shown appetite for reform in the space — boosting childcare subsidies and kicking off Productivity Commission and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission investigations into the sector.

Making all young children entitled to at least three days a week of free child care or at a low set fee, such as $10 a day, was a key recommendation of the Centre for Policy Development report and follows a Productivity Commission paper calling for a similar policy.

Those experiencing disadvantage should be entitled to more, the think thank recommended, such as five days a week of free care.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese welcomed the “important contribution” to the debate and said Labor went to the 2022 federal election with the ambition of delivering universal child care.
“Universal child care provision, as it is in a range of other countries, is something that is a valued national asset,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Norway have all legislated entitlements for early childhood services, and studies have shown where there is free or low-cost universal education available, attendance tends to be high.

Anthony Albanese speaking in a dark blazer and light blue shirt. A house's wall and roof are visible in the background.

Anthony Albanese said the provision of universal child care was a “valued national asset” in a range of other countries. Source: AAP / Bianca De Marchi

The federal government was waiting on the final report from the Productivity Commission before taking its next steps, the prime minister said.

Centre for Policy Development chief executive officer Andrew Hudson said 22 per cent of kids start school developmentally vulnerable and more than 120,000 children did not attend early learning at all due to activity test rules and other reasons.
“We know the current system is broken,” he told the Australian Associated Press.
The think tank wanted the childcare subsidy to be abolished and replaced with a “child-centred” model where early years education services are funded directly.

The Parenthood chief executive officer Georgie Dent said moving away from the childcare subsidy system would ease pressure on families.

“The current subsidy system is overly complex and creates unnecessary barriers for families,” she said.
Jay Weatherill of the Thrive by Five campaign — driven by mining billionaire Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation — said parents were struggling to afford early childhood education and languishing on year-long wait lists.
He said primary carers, mainly women, were paying the price through interrupted careers.
Hudson said getting women back into the workforce was the “single biggest productivity gain we can make”.

“This is just a classic win-win,” he said. Children would get the support that they needed, he said, and women wanting to work would be able to, boosting workforce participation.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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