I'm pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this matter of public importance today because I can say wholeheartedly that people are really struggling in my electorate. With everything people have gone through—drought, bushfires, flood after flood and, of course, the pandemic—people have had enough. Parents, children, workers, small-business owners—it's taking its toll on everyone. But there is a glowing light amongst all of this, and that is the recognition that above everything else our family, friends and community are vital.
I'm immensely proud of my community—the toughest of times and people pull together. It's like a giant washing machine. Throw in drought, bushfires, floods, pandemic, all mixed together, and see what it turns out like. We've seen businesses close, workers lose their jobs and the most extraordinary conditions. We've seen a boom in construction as people rebuild after the bushfires. We've also seen people flock to our country coastal area, keen to find that clean country coastal air for both tourism and to live, which is great for our local shops and spending but there's an unintended lurgy. When you open that washing machine lid or door you're left with spiralling house prices, the lowest rental availability in New South Wales—and, suddenly, more and more people struggle to have somewhere to live. And the bizarre consequence is that workers are harder to find.
For families and businesses in my electorate it's at crisis point. Many want to work or work more days and hours but without the basics of affordable child care it simply isn't an option. The truth is that childcare costs are eating a bigger and bigger hole in household budgets and putting more financial strain on families. When times are tough the choice between putting food on the table or accessing child care for your child or children is horrible to even contemplate. But it shouldn't be that way. Every child deserves access to early education. We know that's one of the best things to help in preparation for school and future life. Every parent should be able to work. They need a childcare system that supports them and, in turn, supports our local businesses and communities.
Childcare fees are up 37 per cent under the Liberals and went up 2.4 per cent last year. The cost of child care is now higher than it was under the previous childcare system and it's the highest it's ever been. Recently I visited a new early learning centre in Milton in my electorate, Milton Early Learning and Care, a fantastic centre with big fat smiles. What struck me about this centre was the devotion of early-learning educators and the integration of families. I wasn't surprised to learn that the centre was already very close to full—such is the demand for the area. I want to send a big shout-out to all the early-learning educators on the New South Wales South Coast. They do the most amazing and important work: educating our young people.
But the government must do more. The coalition's childcare system is broken. That is why Labor has a plan to bring down the cost of child care for families and keep it down. An Albanese Labor government will introduce cheaper child care for working families which will scrap the $10,560 childcare subsidy cap—which often sees women losing money from an extra day's work—lift the maximum childcare subsidy rate to 90 per cent, increase childcare subsidy rates and taper them for every family earning less than $530,000.
Importantly, the ACCC will design a price regulation mechanism to shed light on costs and fees and drive them down for good. The Productivity Commission will also conduct a comprehensive review of the sector, with the aim of implementing a universal 90 per cent subsidy for all families. Labor's plan for cheaper child care will reward working families and allow more second-income earners, usually women, to work more and contribute to our economic recovery.
Families deserve better. Children deserve better. Businesses and my community deserve better. More women and parents should be able to work. They should be able to earn more of an income. Businesses should be able to find more workers. It starts with affordable child care. Only Labor has a plan to fix the coalition's broken childcare system.