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Backbench push for childcare relief

The Education Minister is under pressure to make childcare tax deductible as coronavirus reshapes the workforce.At least six Liberal MPs are lobbying Dan Tehan to offer tax relief to families ineligible for existing childcare subsidies, in a bid to boost female participation in the workforce.Under one scheme put to Mr Tehan, high-income and shift workers…

The Education Minister is under pressure to make childcare tax deductible as coronavirus reshapes the workforce.

At least six Liberal MPs are lobbying Dan Tehan to offer tax relief to families ineligible for existing childcare subsidies, in a bid to boost female participation in the workforce.

Under one scheme put to Mr Tehan, high-income and shift workers families would be able to claim childcare payments as a tax deduction, rather than access existing fee subsidies.

The government’s plan has been criticised for not supporting shift workers, who face high costs for after-hours care. MPs touting the change say those costs create a disincentive for shift workers to return to work.

Mr Tehan says he is constantly reviewing the childcare system, which was unchanged in the October budget, but insists it has reduced costs overall.

But Finance Minister Simon Birmingham told Sky News tax deductibility would “provide the greatest financial benefit to those that are earning the most”.

“(The current) system gives greater support to people that are earning the least but working hard nonetheless,” Mr Birmingham said.

“We’ve designed a system where they pay very small amounts for their childcare. It’s important we don’t lose that for low or middle income families”.

The COVID-19-pandemic has effectively halted migration and forced workplaces to become more flexible. MPs supporting the move, which would cost an additional $608 million annually, argue it will increase participation to boost the nation’s post-pandemic recovery.

They say it would make flexibility a permanent feature of the post-COVID economy, in line with the party’s emphasis on individual choice.

Labor has launched its own childcare plan, pledging to subsidise up to 90 per cent of childcare fees. It says the revelation is an admission the government has “admitted its child care system is not working for Australian families” and is “now resorting to ill-conceived policy on the fly”.

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