April 15, 201510:32pm
PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has revealed the budget savings won by abandoning his signature paid parental leave scheme will fund a small business tax cut, leaving childcare providers scratching their heads.
In February this year, when Mr Abbott’s leadership was under pressure, he said scrapping his gold-plated PPL scheme would enable more money to be spent on tackling Australia’s childcare crisis.
“We’ll be picking up on some of the work of the Productivity Commission, and yes, money that might, under different circumstances, have been invested in a bigger, better paid parental leave scheme will be invested in childcare, because all too many families at the moment find themselves in the position where one parent is working just to pay the childcare,” the Prime Minister said at the time.
But in what is being labelled an about-face by the childcare industry, Mr Abbott on Tuesday said the scrapped PPL scheme would fund his promised small business tax cut.
“Our small business tax cut will be more than paid for by not proceeding with the parental leave scheme that’s already been taken off the table,” Mr Abbott said in a speech to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He also said any new spending on childcare would have to be revenue neutral and offset by other budget savings because there could be “no new spending that’s not offset against savings”
“Our childcare initiative for families is contingent — it is contingent — on the delivery of savings to pay for it because we can’t have the spending without the saving to make it sustainable,” Mr Abbott said.
Disheartened … The Parenthood’s Jo Briskey says the Prime Minister has broken a promise to families. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied
A spokesman for Early Childhood Australia said the peak body was expecting the Families package to deliver to deliver increased investment in childcare.
“ECA heard the Prime Minister say that he would not proceed with a more generous Paid Parental Leave scheme because he had listened to families and understood childcare access and affordability was a higher priority,” the spokesman said.
“Increasing access and affordability to quality early learning programs requires more investment — the money set aside for Increasing PPL should now be spent on this.”
David O’Byrne, National Secretary of United Voice, the early childhood union said Australian parents had “not forgotten PM Abbott’s commitment that he will deliver for families.”
“It is the Government’s job to find where the money comes from and how they choose to account for it,” he said.
Executive director of The Parenthood Jo Briskey said her members were “deeply disheartened” by the news that any additional childcare funding will have to come from cuts to Family Tax Benefits and other family payments.
“The Prime Minister has broken a significant promise and that instead of helping working families he is proposing to make life significantly harder for many,” she said.
Labor’s acting families spokeswoman Jenny Macklin called the failed PPL scheme a farce.
“After stating this money would be spent on child care, he now breaks his word again to declare families won’t see a cent of it,” Ms Macklin said.