Barnaby Joyce has suffered an awkward moment on his usual morning television appearance attempting to skew Labor rising childcare costs – only to be called out over the previous government’s figures.
A recent report from the Australia Competition Consumer Commission (ACCC) showed childcare costs have risen by up to 20 per cent over the past four years, nearly double the global average.
Environment minister Tanya Plibersek said the government will be closely watching providers amid reports that some centres were artificially inflating prices.
“This report is about a period up till 2022. Since then, we‘ve seen hourly rates come down by about 14 per cent. But we need to keep working on this,” Ms Plibersek told Sunrise on Monday.
“This is the biggest expense for most families after the mortgage or the rent at this time of year.”
Firing back, Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce said Labor were “asleep at the wheel” over rising costs.
“We’ve heard Tanya say that (childcare) is one of the big influences of mortgages, that’s gone up under Labor, also we’ve had childcare, that’s another one they said they were going to fix, now prices are going up,” Mr Joyce said.
“You’ve dealt with one part of the issue and completely forgotten about another and all that’s happened is that childcare centres have made more money.”
Sunrise host Natalie Barr pointed out the ACCC analysis covered the period between 2018 to 2020.
During this time Mr Joyce was deputy prime minister and then leader of the Nationals Party under the former Morrison government.
“That’s correct – but I’ll tell you what’s not from that period of time is your childcare bill right now,” Mr Joyce replied.
“I suppose you could say we lost the election because the Labor Party was going to fix it.
“Well, have they?”
The ACCC’s second interim report into Australia’s child care system, which was released over the weekend, recommended lifting childcare worker wages and reviewing price caps to halt skyrocketing costs.
The government made changes to the nation’s Child Care Subsidy which came into effect in July to ease prices for families with a combined income of less than $80,000.
Ms Plibersek said the government was actively considering a crackdown on providers caught overcharging families.
“We’re working on it,” she said.