Abbott flags plan for cheaper childcare

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott's signature paid parental leave scheme will be wound back, but a levy on big business to fund the scheme will likely go to fund childcare instead of subsidising wealthy mothers' leave.

Mr Abbott on Sunday confirmed he would consider over the summer "better targeting" the scheme, likely to include tighter means-testing for PPL, and allowing nannies to be funded.

The scheme was wound back earlier this year after numerous government backbenchers voiced their opposition, lowering it from those earning up to $150,000 to those earning $100,000.

While Mr Abbott said he wanted to ensure a PPL scheme was delivered to help families as well as more affordable childcare generally.

But his announcement was scant on detail, saying he would not go into detail about the changes considered, but that Cabinet would be looking at the issue over the summer.

He confirmed the 1.5% levy on big businesses would remain, despite the money instead being put to childcare rebates, rather than paid parental leave.

The latest changes came after a "ragged" end to parliamentary sittings in the past fortnight, with a supposed back down on the government's GP co-payment policy being promoted and then abandoned.

Mr Abbott, who took the PPL scheme to both the 2010 and 2013 elections as a key policy, has faced internal opposition since the policy was announced, particularly from The Nationals, concerned about the scheme disadvantaging rural mothers compared with well-paid city parents.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the back down and lack of detail showed the government did not have a specific plan for childcare funding or parental leave.

Childcare union leader, United Voice's David O'Byrne, backed any extra money for the system, but said it should go to childcare employees and rebates, not the proposed PPL.

Mr Abbott said he would consider both internal party discussions and the Productivity Commission inquiry into childcare, with a view to announcing the new policy early next year.



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