Labor targets Campbell’s childcare ‘hypocrisy’ ahead of Aston byelection

Labor has ramped up its attacks on Aston Liberal candidate Roshena Campbell, accusing her of hypocrisy for claiming tens of thousands of dollars in ratepayer funded childcare entitlements while criticising Labor’s expanded subsidies.

Shortly after Anthony Albanese became prime minister, Campbell wrote a column for this masthead questioning the usefulness of Labor’s expanded childcare policy, pointing out it would add an extra $5.4 billion pricetag to the federal budget. She is no longer a regular columnist.

Liberal Aston candidate Roshena Campbell speaking to the media alongside Opposition Leader Peter Dutton last month. Credit:Joe Armao

At the time the opinion piece was published, Campbell was a City of Melbourne councillor and therefore eligible to be reimbursed for childcare costs. Between January 2021 and December 2022, the mother of three was reimbursed $30,000, according to council disclosure logs.

Minister for Early Childhood Education Dr Anne Aly said it was astounding that Campbell would “put pen to paper” to criticise Labor’s childcare reforms while receiving carer benefits for working in local government.

“We see this type of hypocrisy time and time again from Peter Dutton and his mates …,” she said.

“Anyone who argues against making it more affordable to access the transformational benefits of early childhood education is simply out of touch with families in the outer eastern suburbs.

“[But it’s] hardly surprising when you’re a handpicked candidate from Brunswick.”

Campbell hit back, suggesting that Labor is resorting to lies and dragging her young children into a political debate.

“As a mum of three who has maintained a busy career as a barrister and a councillor – often attending meetings at night and on weekends – I understand the pressures of balancing work and family,” she said.

“I want working parents to be supported and to have choices. Last year I put forward a suggestion, that as well as subsidising childcare, governments could also support women who re-enter the workforce after taking extended parental leave.

“The last time Labor was in government childcare costs increased 53 per cent. They’re rising again now. Labor’s results don’t always match their rhetoric.”

While Campbell does have a house in Melbourne’s inner north, she is renting a property within Aston’s electoral boundaries for the campaign and has pledged to move to the area permanently should she win on Saturday.

Labor’s candidate Mary Doyle also lives outside Aston, but her supporters are quick to point out she is in Mitcham in the adjacent electorate of Deakin.

Australian Electoral Commission boss Tom Rogers has meanwhile warned of lower-than-expected early voter turnout ahead of this week’s poll.

“The early voting numbers we’re seeing are down by more than 5 per cent based on the same period in 2022,” he said. “There are a lot of Aston residents who will need to get to their local polling place this Saturday.”

A little more than 14,200 Aston voters had cast an early ballot as of Monday night, out of a total enrolment of 110,331 people.

Both major parties believe Saturday’s byelection, which the Liberal Party holds by a 2.6 per cent margin after a large swing against former minister Alan Tudge, will be close.

Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.

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