Anthony Albanese: Recovery requires real economic reform

Childcare reform is needed to boost participation in the workforce and productivity, writes Labor leader Anthony Albanese.

Childcare reform is needed to boost participation in the workforce and productivity, writes Labor leader Anthony Albanese.

Australia needs political leadership that will ensure we emerge from the recession stronger than we were before it began.

History tells us attempting to deal with recessions by restoring pre-crisis conditions is a sure path to failure.

We need reform. Real reform.

Effective economic reform, as always, should focus on the three Ps – population, productivity and participation.

With the pandemic meaning that more people are leaving Australia than arriving, population will not be increasing.

Childcare reform is needed to boost participation in the workforce and productivity. That motivates Labor’s plan to address the absurd design flaw in our tax and childcare systems which discourages many working mothers from working full time.

Caps on childcare subsidies mean women who want to work more than three days a week often see the cost of childcare consume the bulk or even all of their wages.

For so many working women, it’s simply not worth working more than three days a week.

This derails careers, it deprives working women of opportunities they’ve earned.

This makes no sense.

It’s holding back families from getting ahead and it’s holding back our economy.

It means we are not fully utilising our nation’s greatest resource – our people.

A Labor government will fix this.

We will remove the $10,560 a year annual cap on the childcare subsidy from July 1 2022.

We will also increase the maximum childcare subsidy to 90 per cent – cutting costs for 97 per cent of all families in the system.

We will require the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to design a price regulation mechanism to ensure every taxpayer family benefits from this reform.

Families should be able to work out their own working arrangements without one gender being disadvantaged.

The economic payoff will be huge. Modelling shows that clearing the way for greater female workforce participation will boost economic growth by $4 billion a year.

Then there is the benefit to children.

The human brain develops 90 per cent of its capacity in the first five years of life.

Our reform will give children greater access to early childhood education, which will improve their prospects in later life.

This will benefit workplaces – not just day-to-day productivity but years of valuable experience and knowledge and skills.

Labor’s childcare change represents fundamental structural reform that will not only change lives, but also turbo charge economic growth.

This underlines the difference between Labor and the conservatives.

While the Liberals resist reform, Labor governments drive change in the national interest.

We take on the tough reform tasks that change our nation for the better.

Universal health care. Affordable university education. Compulsory superannuation. The National Broadband Network. The NDIS.

Then there are the great economic reforms of the Hawke and Keating era which set the platform for three decades of economic growth and prosperity.

Our childcare initiative is cut from the same cloth.

It is not just about fairness. It will transform our national economy for the better.

Anthony Albanese is the Leader of the Australian Labor Party

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