Child care fee rise to pay for staff a 'worthy thing'

Flynn MP Ken O’Dowd spoke against the bill in the house, saying it was unfair and “will create a wage war”.
Flynn MP Ken O’Dowd spoke against the bill in the house, saying it was unfair and “will create a wage war”. Tom Huntley

FEES for child care could rise by up to $15 a day as an unintended result of a Federal Government move to up the pay packets of workers in the industry.

A bill to give $300 million to early childhood education staff for pay rises passed the lower house in Federal Parliament late on Tuesday night.

While Senator Nick Xenophon said the idea behind the bill was a "worthy thing" he said the proposed new laws only allowed for 40% of eligible staff to receive payments, and only then for two years.

He said it could also result in pay rises to staff being passed on directly to parents, costing between $10 and $15 extra per day.

"The bill circumvents the Fair Work process and will not only lead to the majority of workers missing out, it will lead to a number of community and regional childcare centres having to close their doors," he said.

"Smaller centres especially are going to feel the pinch, because they'll be forced to match these pay increases if they want to retain their staff.

"Given the current state of the childcare sector, it's likely parents could be paying up to $15 a day more - that's a massive hike for many families."

He said there was also no consideration given to funding for childcare centres in low socio-economic areas, in the regional or for disabled children.

However, United Voice national president Michael Crosby hit back, saying the bill would increase fees for parents.

"The fund is the first vital step in ensuring that the families of today and tomorrow will have a quality early childhood education and care sector on which they can rely, a sector with a quality stable workforce which can afford to stay in childcare," he said.

The union and child care sector lobbied for several years to improve the pay and conditions for workers in the industry.

Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd also spoke against the bill in the house, saying it was unfair and "will create a wage war".

He said while low paid workers in the sector worked hard and long hours, wage increases should be determined through the Fair Work Commission - the official body which makes such decisions.

Mr O'Dowd said, instead, the United Voice unions relied on the government to "hand money over fist".

"This bit of legislation is being rushed through at a hundred miles an hour so that no-one really knows the facts or how this bill is going to work," he said.

The bill was expected to pass the Senate this week.

Topics:  child care early childhood education federal government fees nick xenophon

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