As the cost of living continues to bite, the Greens Party is increasing pressure on the government to introduce new measures to further help households.
- The Greens are expected to argue making child care and dental free would save households thousands
- The federal government has promised to reduce child care costs from July next year
- The measures would cost $182 billion over the next decades
In an address to the National Press Club today, Greens Leader Adam Bandt will call on the government to make childcare and dental healthcare free, arguing it would provide thousands of dollars in long-term support for families who are struggling to pay bills.
“These would be long-lasting changes that would deliver real relief to everyday people battling with high inflation and low wages and incomes,” he is expected to say.
“Better than a short-lived cut to fuel excise that can be wiped out by a profiteering petroleum corporation, these measures would mean people were better off not just right now, but next month and next year, year after year.”
The federal government has promised to reduce childcare costs from July next year, estimating 96 per cent of families will be better off.
Under the proposal, the childcare subsidy rate will be lifted to 90 per cent for the first child and the means taper will be less steep than the current system.
For example, a family earning $75,000 will be eligible for a 90 per cent subsidy, while a family earning $120,000 will receive an 82 per cent subsidy.
Families with a combined income of up to $530,000 will receive some level of support.
Mr Bandt will today declare the July start date is too far away and instead call on the government to go one step further and make child care free for all in the October budget.
The government also plans to ask the Productivity Commission to review the child care sector, with the aim to provide 90 per cent subsidies for all families in the future.
Mr Bandt will argue there is no need for a review and the government should move quickly towards free child care for all and not a heavily subsidized program.
“Make child care free and support the workforce,” he is expected to say.
“We don’t need to wait for another review to tell us that child care is in crisis.”
Dental support would save hundreds
The Greens have long called for universal access to free dental care and Mr Bandt will again ramp up the party’s calls for the government to consider the measure.
Medicare does not subsidize dental check-ups for all Australians. About $9.5 billion was spent on dental services in 2019-20, with the majority paid in out-of-pocket costs.
In his speech, Mr Bandt will refer to figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that estimate each household spends on average $960 every year on dental care.
“The government should also put dental into Medicare, delivering real cost-of-living relief to everyone in the country,” he is expected to say.
The government has previously indicated it wants to expand Medicare so dental care is covered but it is yet to specify a time frame.
The Greens estimate free dental and healthcare would save a family of four about $7,000 a year.
Both measures would cost $182 billion over the next decades. The Greens believe that money could be found by taxing gas companies and extremely wealthy Australians.