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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 7 Hansard (5 August) . .

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It's **expletive deleted** expensive. I've always been lucky getting a place, but I would hate to work shift work as the hours 7.30 to 6.00 are very strict. And before and after school care is a disaster too.

In the ACT child care accounts for roughly 12 per cent of gross income after subsidies as opposed to the rest of the country where childcare accounts for around eight per cent of gross income. That is a significant difference and a huge burden on our ACT families who are already struggling.

A parent from Gilmore with a young baby told me earlier today:

It's definitely a question about whether the cost of childcare is worth returning to work. It's a decision that we will have to weigh up. Even with our two incomes, the cost of living costs, the childcare expenses, mortgage payments, the rising cost of electricity, gas, et cetera, will be a struggle for us.

I could go on and on with the concerns of Canberra families, but I think we all get the picture—comment after comment that talk about the cost, availability, and quality of child care in our city.

We need to acknowledge that the ACT has the highest cost of child care in the country. It is disingenuous to put quality completely above affordability and availability. If you cannot afford a Rolls Royce or a Ferrari, there is no point talking about the quality that you get from it because it is completely out of your price bracket and it does not matter how good the performance is of that car. You do not get to make those choices if you cannot afford it. We really need to consider the impact that the cost of child care and the cost of living is having on our families—the rate increases, electricity and fuel costs, parking and transport costs and all the other expenses.

I look forward to what changes can be made as a result of the Productivity Commission draft review, but I also encourage this government to consider what else they can be doing to help our families who are struggling while ensuring that the quality of our childcare is uncompromised. Quality affordable and available child care is the key to ensuring not just the best educational outcomes for children but also women's long-term participation in the workforce. We need to get it right.

MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Disability, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Racing and Gaming, Minister for Women and Minister for the Arts) (4.18): I thank Ms Berry for bringing this very important subject on. This government is very committed to investing in early childhood education and care to promote the best possible start in life for young children in Canberra. That is why this government has made it such a high priority. In February, I believe, I reported to the Assembly that we have delivered a 94 per cent increase in the number of long day care places since we came to office. Between 2011 and now, according to a recent update, we have increased the number of long day care places by 2,068, with almost 700 of these places being created in the last year alone.


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