Tony Abbott is sure parents will thank him once they see the plans for a new system of childcare subsidies.
However, Labor is refusing to guarantee support for cuts needed to pay for the new package, saying only that they’ll balance the subsidies against families being made worse off.
Families earning up to $165,000 a year will be the biggest winners from the reforms, News Corp reported on Sunday.
“What you’ll see from this government is more affordable and more accessible childcare,” Mr Abbott said in Sydney, while refusing to pre-empt a more detailed announcement expected in the coming week.
“We’ll have some very good announcements to make in the budget which I think the Australian people will welcome.”
It’s expected the new system will pay a single means-tested subsidy directly to childcare centres, with the rate tapering down in line with family incomes.
The subsidy would also be subject to a work activity test.
This is in line with the Productivity Commission’s recommendations.
Mr Abbott said childcare subsidies should be seen as strengthening the economy rather than welfare measures.
Labor’s social services spokeswoman Jenny Macklin reminded the government of the vast range of people’s working situations.
“We want to make sure that the parents who’ve got a very part time or casual job, parents who are looking for work, are able to get access to high quality child care,” she told reporters in Melbourne.
The government has said family benefits cuts held up in the Senate are needed to pay for childcare subsidies.
Ms Macklin reiterated Labor’s opposition to changes which would lead to single-income families losing up to $6000 a year when their youngest child turned six.
But she indicated the opposition would look at those in tandem with the childcare proposals.
The government has already announced a two-year $246 million trial of subsidising nanny fees, the first part of its childcare package.