Using taxpayer money to subsidise nannies instead of improving the childcare system will favour the wealthy and create a system ripe for rorting, Unions NSW warned today.

A draft Productivity Commission recommendation being considered by the federal government suggests a single, means-tested payment should go directly to the parents’ choice of provider.

While welcoming the Commissions recommendation to move toward means testing, Unions NSW Assistant Secretary Emma Maiden said subsidising nannies was the wrong approach.

“Subsiding nannies instead of improving our childcare system is a poor way to direct precious government resources,” Ms Maiden said.

“What working families want and deserve is easy access to quality, well-regulated childcare close to their home and workplace. Turbo-boosting a murky and unregulated sector without any real transparency will always favour the privileged and wealthy over those without money and connections.”

Ms Maiden noted the Commission’s recommendations for auditors for nannies, but raised core concerns about how workable such a system would be.

“Even with the appointment of auditors does anyone really think this would not be a system wide open to rorting of every kind?” Ms Maiden said.

“What would auditors be checking? Would they be looking at the working rights of nannies? Wages, working conditions, overtime, visa status? How would they be able to check what kind of work nannies were required to do unless they actually caught them with an iron in one hand? Resources should not be going toward subsidising nannies when what working parents are really crying out for is better access and flexibility within the existing childcare system.”

Ms Maiden said the government had abundant options for meaningful reform without subsidising nannies.

“If the government wanted to make life easier for working parents, it could look to improve connections and integration between childcare facilities so that parents working early or late can ensure their children are moved to alternate appropriate forms of care as necessary,” she said.

“And if the government really wanted to take a fresh, constructive approach it could look to making childcare fully publicly owned. Recent history, including the ABC Learning debacle, suggests privatisation in the sector can be more hindrance then help.”

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