Australia's main opposition Labor party pledged a A$3 billion ($2.2 billion) childcare package and said it plans to allow parents to claim more rebates regardless of their income if it wins next month's elections.
The policy would start January if the party is victorious July 2 and entails a 15 percent increase to the childcare benefit payment, Labor leader Bill Shorten said at a press conference in Melbourne. An increased rebate would let families claim back as much as A$10,000 a year for each child, he said.
Labor’s childcare package could boost support for the party, which is tied with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s governing Coalition in a Newspoll published Monday. The Labor plan may put pressure on Turnbull to reverse a decision to delay promised childcare fee relief until July 2018, the Herald Sun reported.
Turnbull, 61, has promised to cut corporate tax rates and boost infrastructure spending in his bid for a second term in office. The prime minister’s coalition has been characterized by union-backed Shorten, 48, as being out of touch with average workers.
“Labor’s plan for childcare is fairer, it’s affordable, it’s quality and it’s going to happen a year-and-a-half earlier than the Liberal’s” policy, Shorten said.
Qualified families earning below A$150,000 a year are the biggest winners, according to the Herald Sun report Sunday. For about 800,000 families who currently qualify for the childcare benefit, the policy would deliver as much as A$1,600 in extra assistance and some families would be A$5,000 a year better off, the report said.
(Updates with comments from opposition leader in fifth paragraph.)