Labor backflips on child care rebate freeze

FEDERAL Labor has backflipped on its own freeze on child care rebates, with plans to vote with the Greens in the Senate to stop the Coalition Government completing the freeze.

The indexation freeze, which would leave Australia's child care rebate at $7500 a year until 2017, is before the Senate after passing the House today.

Despite the change being promised in the previous government's last budget, Labor is preparing to vote with the Greens in the Senate to prevent it passing.

The change of heart comes as the government looks to save some $100-odd million by continuing the freeze, with indexation of the rebate to continue from 2017.

It also follows moves today by the government to prevent a Labor initiative that would have spent about $1.2 billion to subsidise aged care workers' wages.

That money was planned to be spent to subsidise the wages of about 350,000 workers in retirement villages and assisted-living centres around the country.

But Labor attempted to guarantee the subsidy from Opposition earlier this week, forcing the government to use its numbers to "disallow" the original subsidy.

A statement from Assistant Social Services Minister Mitch Fifield said the Labor move was an attempt to "govern from the grave".

He said workers could only access the aged care wages supplement through a union-negotiated enterprise agreement, forcing people to join unions to get the extra pay.

But opposition aged care spokesman Shayne Neumann said the Coalition would "rather play politics" than address problems in the industry.



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