(Australian Associated Press)
The Small Business Ombudsman has warned scrapping free child care will stop businesses reopening during Australia’s coronavirus recovery.
Kate Carnell told the Senate’s coronavirus response committee the federal government’s decision to end the measure on July 12 would stymie economic growth.
Ms Carnell said reintroducing fees would have a major impact on people trying to get small businesses up and running.
“Free child care was a godsend for them. Without it they will struggle significantly,” she said on Wednesday.
“We do want them to be able to spend the time and effort getting their businesses up and running again.”
Ms Carnell said 40 per cent of small businesses were owned by women, who were being disproportionately affected by the economic crisis.
She said people would be forced to look after children while trying to restart businesses.
“If we want those businesses to get up and running then we’ve got to do something about the childcare problem,” the ombudsman said.
“It will significantly impact their ability to employ and grow and that’s exactly what we don’t need right now.”
Ms Carnell said many small businesses were working extra hours to get businesses running again.
Ombudsman director Alexandra Hordern said for people on JobKeeper wage subsidies, the only affordable child care was free.
For childcare workers JobKeeper will end on July 20, with staff to be switched to transitional payments.