Confidential treasury figures reportedly show the government intends on saving money in its next budget by means testing the 50 per cent childcare rebate for the first time for families with a combined income of between $150,000 and $200,000, News Limited’s

Sunday Telegraph reported.

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Families can currently claim the 50 per cent childcare rebate without meeting a strict work, training or study test for both parents, or documenting work related activities.

However early Childhood Minister Peter Garrett floated a new means test plan earlier this year, News Limited said.

Other savings options the government recommends in its budget reportedly include applying a new work test to the rebate that pays families up to $7500 per child, limiting assistance for stay at home mums putting toddlers in care.

Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey described the plan as “indifferent towards Australian families”.

“Why on earth would Julia Gillard want to hurt families, take money out of their pocket at a time when they are facing higher electricity prices, higher water prices, higher food prices and higher housing prices?” he told reporters in Sydney.

“The indifference of the government towards Australian families at a time when many families are doing it tough says how out of touch this government is”.

“I could not believe that a government would be so out of touch, that it would do this to Australian families, reducing family payments when they are facing higher bills for electricity, water, grocery and housing.”

Mr Hockey said the government would be financially better off if it hadn’t gone ahead with its National Broadband Network project.

“The government has to cut back on its own expenditure,” he said.

“Every metre of cable for the National Broadband Network is going to come out of the pockets of families.

“That’s the formula the government is putting in this budget.

“Why does a government need to spend so much money on a National Broadband Network, when it is taking at the same time, money out of the pockets of Australian families?”