Release type: Transcript

Date:

Today Show Interview with Allison Langdon

Ministers:

The Hon Alan Tudge MP
Minister for Education and Youth

Subjects: new childcare subsidy rates, ban of travel from India into Australia

ALLISON LANGDON:

Well, a week out from the budget and young families appear set to cash in with a $1.7 billion pledge to slash the cost of childcare. The move, all about getting more women back into the workforce. And the Minister for Education and Youth, Alan Tudge, joins us now in Melbourne. Minister, thanks for your time this morning. The Grattan Institute has labelled this package helpful, but not a game changer as the Treasurer claimed. Is it too limiting?

ALAN TUDGE:

Well, it is a game changer for those families with two or more kids in child care, and that’s where it really hurts you and where the fees start to stack up. So, an average family on $110,000 with two kids in child care now will be $95 per-week better off under these new measures, and that’ll make a real difference. I had people literally at the airport come up to me yesterday and say what a difference that will make, and how that’ll help them have confidence to do more work.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Look, I think it is great that this is an issue that you are tackling. But it is only going to apply to those with two or more children in child care at the same time, and it’s not going to come into effect until July next year. What’s wrong with now?

ALAN TUDGE:

That is the advice I have received from my Department, that it just takes that time, particularly for complex IT changes to be made. Listen, Alli, if we can introduce it earlier than that, we will, but we’re just being cautious here from an implementation perspective.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Okay. In today’s Daily Telegraph, we learnt that the cost of child care is, look, out of control in Sydney - up 3.5 per cent in the last quarter. Now, the Opposition has detailed a much more generous child care policy. Do you think you are going to have to improve your offer?

ALAN TUDGE:

A couple of points. What really matters, Ally, is people with kids in childcare know is their out-of-pocket expenses, and out-of-pocket expenses are still down quite considerably from several years ago. But, where we know it starts to hurt is when they add up, because you have got two or more kids. Now, that’s why our measures are very, very targeted at those groups. Now, Labor's package, they’re just going to be spraying money everywhere, including to millionaires. You know, you can be on $1 million literally and you’ll be getting a $50,000 subsidy from the Labor Party, paid for by everybody. Whereas our measures are targeted at those that really need it most, the lower income families, those families with two or more kids, rather than spraying money everywhere.

ALLISON LANGDON:

How do you then ensure that the child care centres don't just jack up their fees?

ALAN TUDGE:

The main reason is because we have a price cap which we introduced a few years ago. And 88 per cent of child care centres are still pricing below that price cap, and that is what really puts the pressure, the downward pressure on fees.

ALLISON LANGDON:

I’m not sure if you just heard Dr Andrew Miller talking to Karl, but he’s basically apologised for your Government's decision to fine or jail anyone flying in from India. Your response to that?

ALAN TUDGE:

This is a temporary measure which we’ll relook at in a few weeks’ time. But, it's just to ensure that we don't get COVID outbreaks here in Australia on a very significant scale. About 15 per cent of our Howard Springs facility now has COVID in it, and nearly all of that has been from returning Indians in recent weeks. The medical experts are saying that, really, you only want a maximum cap of about 2 per cent of people with COVID in your quarantine system. So, we’re giving those quarantine systems a breather so that we can have surety they’ll be safe, and infections won't spread throughout the Australian community.

ALLISON LANGDON:

So the flight ban will definitely lift on 15 May?

ALAN TUDGE:

Well, it will be looked at on 15 May - that was our commitment. This, this was always a temporary measure while COVID has been running so rampant throughout India, and while the infection rate has been going up quite considerably in our main quarantine facility, being Howard Springs, where a lot of returning Indians have been going to.

ALLISON LANGDON:

It doesn’t say a lot for our quarantine system, does it, that we can't handle those numbers?

ALAN TUDGE:

Well, the medical experts say that, ideally, the infection rate in a quarantine system would be about 2 per cent or lower, and in Howard Springs it’s 15 per cent now, nearly all of which have been brought about from Indians coming in recently. So, it is just a very precautionary measure here, Ally. We want it to be temporary. We understand the difficulties. Indians can still come to Australia by quarantining somewhere else in transit before they come here. But, let's re- evaluate the middle of May, get that medical expert advice, and make sure that all Australians are safe.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Alright, Alan, thank you so much. We appreciate your time this morning. Thanks.

ALAN TUDGE:

Thanks, Ally.