Thursday, February 2, 2023
HomeNew ZealandSweeping expansion to childcare support announced by PM

Sweeping expansion to childcare support announced by PM

Jacinda Ardern speaks at the Labour Party conference.

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Jacinda Ardern speaks at the Labour Party conference.
Photo: Screenshot / Labour Party

More than half of all kiwi families will soon be eligible for support to cover the cost of childcare.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern unveiled the policy aimed at easing cost of living pressures at her party’s annual conference in Auckland this afternoon.

The childcare subsidy is a payment to help families with the cost of pre-school childcare. The income threshold to be eligible for the assistance hasn’t changed since 2010.

In last year’s Budget, the government indexed the eligible income threshold to average wage growth.

Ardern said today the government was further increasing the threshold from April next year, to make up for the 12-year period it was frozen.

The new income thresholds will be confirmed when wage data is released at the start of next year, but the government has released provisional thresholds, based on forecasts.

Childcare assistance subsidy thresholds.

Childcare assistance subsidy thresholds.
Photo: Supplied / NZ Govt

The change will mean a family with two parents both working 40 hours per week on $26 per hour with two children under 5 who will not have been eligible for childcare assistance, now will be eligible for $252 per week.

But exactly how much each family saves on childcare will depend on how many hours they work, their income, how long their children spend in care and the cost of it.

The government expects the changes will mean the parents of about 7400 additional children will receive the payment on average per month.

The government will spend $189.391 million over four years on the policy.

Ardern also confirmed the amount the Family Tax Credit will increase by next year.

From April, the payment will increase by $9 a week for the eldest child to $136 a week, and by $7 a week for subsequent children to $111 a week.

The Best Start payment will also lift by $4 a week to $69 a week.

‘The answer is Labour’ – Ardern

During her keynote address to a few hundred Labour Party faithful, Ardern said New Zealand had been through tough times, but 2023 would likely be even more difficult.

The question at next year’s general election would be which party can help the country navigate what’s ahead, Ardern said.

“Who can provide the security and certainty New Zealanders need to get through, with a plan, with confidence and with optimism?

“The answer is Labour.”

Ardern stressed her party’s experience of managing crises and said Labour had proved it can deliver during tough times.

“In 2023 we’re not asking for people to take a leap of faith. We’re asking them to look at our record.

“That doesn’t mean considering Labour vs perfection. But Labour vs the opposition, which I would argue is quite some way off perfection.”

Ardern said she is sometimes asked how she keeps going during tough times.

“Two reasons. Because of a powerful intervention otherwise known as endless cups of tea. And because I am an optimist.

“We have an amazing country. With incredible people. And we owe it to those people to keep up our unrelenting focus on what matters most to them.”

Deputy leader blasts National

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Labour Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis.
Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Labour’s Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis addressed the party in the morning.

His speech was originally scheduled to behind closed doors, but was later opened to media.

The Prime Minister’s office said it had been left off the schedule due to a “misunderstanding.”

In his speech, he quoted a message the Ngāpuhi chief, Te Ruki Kawiti, shared with his people during the Battle of Ruapekapeka in 1846.

“‘He kino whakairo ahau e hurihia ki te toki mata iti’.

“This literally translated means, ‘I would be a poor carving indeed if I flinched at the tap of a chisel,’ or to put those words into today’s context, ‘We cannot yield to the challenges that confront us.'”

He told party members Labour must use the criticism it receives as motivation.

“Where the opposition feared to tread, we must go. Where the opposition hid, we must be seen. Where the opposition wavered, we must be resolute.”

“You see, fear can be contagious. So we can’t let the opposition’s fear stop us from acting on the tougher issues.

“So we must draw on that same inner strength and courage that Te Ruki Kawiti did when he was under constant attack and bombardment and his whānau, his supporters, his allies, and his children’s children were under threat.”

He encouraged the party to be courageous, despite criticism.

“We we can’t be worn down by those who try to chip away at us with the insults, the misinformation, the pettiness and the lack of courage.”

He attacked National, saying the party’s only motivation for being in government is to have power.

“To the opposition, being in power isn’t about addressing the bigger issues. It’s about pandering to the electorate and putting the tough stuff on the shelf for our children’s children to deal with.”

Davis also used his speech to rubbish National’s ‘pothole of the day’ campaign.

National has encouraged the public to send the party pictures of potholes in their community, so it can highlight the worst one with the aim of getting the government to fix it.

Davis said he knew about potholes, as he used to fix them as a student.

He said the damage was caused by severe weather and increased traffic.

The former, he said, was ignored by the opposition, while the later was encouraged by it.

If the opposition is serious about fixing potholes, the party needs to help fix climate change, Davis told the audience.

“The opposition is a group of people suffering from small mind-itis, where the symptom is the problem. We say the problem is the problem. So fix the problem.”

Story Credit: rnz.co.nz

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