With the 2016 federal election tomorrow, one of the biggest issues for many voters has finally been broken down into palatable, easy to understand bites thanks to The Project and Waleed Aly.
Talking about the hot topic on Thursday night, Aly began, “Ask any parent and they’ll tell you it’s not easy getting your kid into childcare – expensive once you do and bloody confusing when you’re trying to work out what rebates you’re entitled to.”
And despite both parties having $3 billion in election promises to their names, the Coalition and Labor’s policies are remarkably different.
As a refresher, the current child care system allows parents to access the means tested child care benefit (CCB) and a non-means tested child care rebate (CCR).
"The current system is unnecessarily complicated," Early Childhood Australia CEO Samantha Page told Aly. "It's confusing both for the parents and for service providers."
So, what are the parties offering?
Malcolm Turnbull. Source: Getty.
"The coalition is taking a long-term approach following recommendations from the Productivity Commission to overhaul the child care rebate system to make it simpler," Aly explained.
Turnbull plans to combine the CCR and CCB and have one means test for both.
"At one end families with incomes under $65,000 could have 85 per cent of their childcare costs covered. Wealthier families with incomes of $340,000 and above could claim at most 20 per cent of their costs. Also a cap of $10,000 would apply for families earning more than about $180,000," Aly continued.
Because the plan is so major, it wouldn't be in place until July 2018.
But according to the Centre of Independent Studies' Trisha Jha says that good policy is worth waiting for.
"Because it involves long-term reform, it makes it much more sustainable over the long-run," she says.
Bill Shorten on the campaign trail. Source: Getty.
Labor also has major plans, but they're more tweaks than overhauls and because of that can be introduced by 1 January 2016.
Shorten wants to keep the current system as is, but "wants to increase the means tested child care benefit by 15 per cent and increase the childcare rebate from $7,500 to $10,000," Aly said.
"It's one of the most attractive elements of Labor's policy, but also the fact that it preserves 24 hours of subsidised access for children," Page said. "And there are very few losers under Labor's package."
"So which one's better?" Aly finally asked before explaining that while both parties plan to give higher income earning families less, the majority will fare better under either plan. And while some low income families could be worse off under the Coalition' plan, "we need to look beyond who gets more or less money in their pocket in the short term," Aly says.
"We need to listen to the experts... They say that the current system is a total mess and it can't be fixed just by tweaking a rebate here or increasing a cap there. It needs a major overhaul if we want to improve services and costs for all Australians in the long-term."
Because of that, Aly gives this policy win to the Coalition.
Which 2016 election child care policy do you think works?