Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), says the Queensland State Budget’s flagship policy to make kindergarten free for all families will help relieve retail workforce shortages and help address the cost-of-living crisis for affected families.
The ARA welcomed other elements of a $1.6 billion package to tackle the cost of living, including a $550 cost of living rebate on electricity bills for all Queensland households.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra said the cost of kindergarten is a significant barrier for working parents, particularly women, re-entering the workforce.
“The cost of kindergarten often makes it unfeasible for mums to return to work, so today’s news is welcomed. However, it’s a broader issue remaining for families with older children too,” he said.
“When costs of childcare and after school care outweigh the income received from part-time or casual work, women can be financially disadvantaged by joining or re-joining the workforce.
“This policy is a step in the right direction to incentivise female participation in the workforce – especially in retail, which still has some 36,400 job vacancies across the country.”
Mr Zahra also praised sensible cost-of-living relief measured announced in the budget, including rebates on energy costs and critical food relief.
“Australians are doing it tough, and Queensland is no exception,” he said.
“Cost-of-living relief isn’t just essential for liveability, but also for economic stimulation in the retail sector.
“We’re already seeing discretionary spending slow – any cost-of-living relief is welcome. Some of this support will ultimately flow through to the retail economy in the form of retail spending.”
Mr Zahra said whilst the measures would reduce pressure on Queensland families, it was disappointing there weren’t further measures in place for small to medium size businesses who were confronting a tough year with the rising cost of doing business.
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