Remember John Howard’s hasty election promise last October to match Labor by providing a 30 per cent rebate on the cost of child-care? Howard did not want to do it but felt compelled to compete with Latham (hard to believe these days but the former ALP Leader gave Howard some serious opposition). Ever since he got safely back to Kirribilli he has been back-tracking at a million miles an hour. First, they reneged on the initial promise by putting a cap on it – you can only claim $4,000 a year in child-care expenses, parents were told. (Originally, there was no limit). Then the introduction was delayed by a year, so that parents can’t claim back any of the huge and soaring costs of child-care until the financial year AFTER the expenses were paid. (Ever heard of cash flow problems, John?) Next, in a further tightening of the scheme, parents who use preschool for child-care were told they won’t be eligible at all. Now the government is whingeing that all those people it has forced off welfare into the workforce think they are eligble for it — causing the costs of the scheme to blow out. Have you ever seen such a mean-spirited approach to a policy that was originally meant to help parents defray the huge cost of childcare. We know that some parents in Sydney and Melbourne are paying more than $100 a day and get NO help at present from the government. The way the rebate policy is heading, that won’t be available to them for years – if ever. But if you are a stay at home Mum, with no child-care expenses, and a millionaire husband then the government is more than willing to give you a handout. Currently 76 families with the sole earner bringing in $1million plus are getting $64 a week in Family Benefit Part B. This is more than double the number of millionaires who received the benefit last year. Great to see the already wealthy getting some government provided pin-money while two-earner families struggle with higher rates of tax AND no help with their child-care. Way to go, John.