As Howard and Rudd fight over who will give “working families” a better future after November 24, both of the leaders go around kissing babies and visiting schools. However, Crikey wonders how the political opponents would like it if a strange man kissed their baldspots? However, we digress. As part of their family appeal, Labor and Liberal have proposed what they will do about childcare.

ALP

16 November 2007: Labor releases its Plan for Early Childhood, pledging to:

  • Make child care more affordable for more than 700,000 Australian families by lifting the Child Care Tax Rebate to 50 per cent, up to $7,500 per child each year. Under Federal Labor, government assistance for child care will meet up to 82 per cent of parents’ costs.
  • Make child care more accessible by establishing 260 new long day care centres on school, TAFE, University and community sites.
  • Improve the quality of child care by investing $77 million in the training and education of the workforce and setting tougher standards for child care providers.
  • Ensure every four year old child has access to fifteen hours a week and 40 weeks a year of high quality preschool delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher.
  • A Healthy Kid’s Check for four year olds.
  • A national rollout of the Australian Early Development Index in Australian primary schools.
    $32.5 million to roll out the Home Interaction Program in 50 disadvantaged communities across Australia to help parents to prepare their children for school.
  • Comprehensive early intervention and specialised child care services for children with autism.

23 October 2007: Labor’s Plan for High Quality Child Care, including:

  • Tough national child care quality standards including a quality improvement system that assesses centres from A to E and regular unannounced spot checks;
  • $3.5 million for new healthy eating and physical activity guidelines for centres; and
  • $73.5 million in incentives and opportunities to improve the qualifications of child care workers to ensure our children receive expert early learning and care.

22 October 2007: Labor release its Affordable Child Care Plan to:

  • Increase the Childcare Tax Rebate to 50 per cent – covering up to $7,500 of out-of-pocket costs per child; and
  • Pay the 50% Child Care Tax Rebate quarterly – so parents no longer have to wait one or two years to receive their money.

27 October 2007: Labor to invest $12 million in a national initiative that will:

  • Provide grants to small business to meet the set up costs of family friendly measures such as flexible rosters, school holiday leave arrangements, family rooms and mentoring;
  • Distribute business and industry specific information to support work-based family friendly practices; and
  • Ensure experts are available through Fair Work Australia offices to help small business develop new family friendly arrangements in their workplace.  

Coalition

12 November 2007: The Government produces its Better Child Care for Families Policy, pledging to:

  • From April 2008, a re-elected Coalition Government will pay the 30 per cent Child Care Tax Rebate directly to child care services so that they can pass on this benefit to parents immediately, when they need it most.
  • A re-elected Coalition Government will increase access to places in areas of need by providing capital funding to local governments of up to $1 million to build or extend 35 child care centres over the next 4 years, which include places for younger children.
  • A re-elected Coalition Government will implement an even stronger Child Care Quality Accreditation System by July 2008, including more random spot checks to ensure quality care is being provided on a daily basis.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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