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Labor’s cheaper childcare policy could be fast tracked as Australians struggle with cost of living

Labor may bring their $5.4billion childcare policy forward as families struggle to cope with rising cost of living and the sector suffers through dire workforce shortages

  • Labor’s key policy on cheaper childcare could be fast-tracked before 2023  
  • Minister says commitment will be brought forward earlier if there’s opportunity
  • Government to address childcare staff shortages with better pay and conditions

The Labor government’s election promise to make childcare cheaper for families could be fast-tracked and brought in before 2023 as Aussies grapple with skyrocketing cost of living. 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese may bring forward the party’s signature childcare policy, hoping an improvement in pay and conditions for workers will solve widespread staff shortages in the industry. 

The $5.4bn a year policy is expected to help 1.26 million families by increasing the maximum subsidy rate by up to 90 per cent for the first child in care. 

All families earning less than $530,000 a year will be eligible for the subsidy, which is supposed to kick in from July 2023.

Early childhood minister Dr Anne Aly described rising childcare costs as the former Coalition government’s ‘greatest failing’.

The federal government will look to fast-track its key policy of cheaper childcare for families. Pictured is Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during a childcare centre visit last month

‘If there is an opportunity to do that, obviously the earlier we ­deliver our commitments the better because of the pressures that are currently facing families around the cost of living,’  Dr Aly told The Australian.

‘It’s always good and better to deliver your commitments before the due date, especially in the current economic circumstances.’

She also vowed to address staff shortages in childcare with vacancies predicted to surge to almost 40,000 in the next 12 months.

‘You hear the aged-care workers going in with a passion for aged care but are leaving because of the conditions and the pay and all the other pressures that are on them, and it’s the same for childcare workers,’ Dr Aly added.

‘How do we attract and retain workers and how do we improve working conditions across all sectors, whether its aged care or childcare and early learning?’

Early childhood minister Anne Aly (pictured) confirmed Labor is looking to fast-track childcare subsidies as costs of living for households skyrocket

Early childhood minister Anne Aly (pictured) confirmed Labor is looking to fast-track childcare subsidies as costs of living for households skyrocket

A Productivity Commission review will be tasked with forecasting productivity gains from Labor’s childcare policy and addressing structural issues across the industry.

Dr Aly expects the review to begin in the next six months and report back to the government within two years.

Cheaper childcare was one of the five pillars in Mr Albanese’s budget reply speech six weeks out from the election.

‘Under our plan, no family will be worse off, but almost all families will be better off,’ he told parliament at the time.

‘Making childcare cheaper will mean more Australian children get access to early education, giving them a great start in life.

‘And, crucially, cheaper childcare is an economic reform.

‘Our plan will end the economic distortion that stops mothers in particular from working more than three or four days a week.

‘It will boost productivity and workforce participation across the economy.’