Page 3947 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 1 December 2021

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does for our young people. It is not simply wiping noses and wiping bottoms. It gives them the best possible equal start to their early years of education and development, starting them up and setting them up for success as they start their primary and secondary years.

MR HANSON: Minister, what is the government doing to address this significant shortfall in qualified early childhood teachers?

MS BERRY: First of all, we are respecting and valuing the work of early childhood educators, and we are encouraging people to take up a career in early childhood education as well as within the teaching profession more broadly. The ACT government has been working with the Teacher Quality Institute around the registration of early childhood teachers to ensure that their professionalism is recognised and that they are registered the same as any other teaching professional is.

MR CAIN: I have a supplementary question. Minister, why is there a shortfall of nearly one in five teaching positions in early childhood education in the ACT?

MS BERRY: One of the reasons that Mr Cain and the Canberra Liberals might not have noticed is that the early childhood sector is a desperately underpaid and undervalued workforce. Despite the sector being predominantly women—97 per cent of the workforce being women—and having applied for an equal pay case in the Fair Work Commission, the case was knocked back by the Fair Work Commission. It was not supported by the federal Liberals to increase their pay to a rate that reflected the qualifications that they have and the professionalism of their work. That would predominantly be one of the reasons why the early childhood sector has difficulty recruiting people to work in that sector.

They are incredibly well qualified to care and provide an early start to a great education in our early childhood sector, but the fact is that a gendered workforce—97 per cent women—is underpaid and undervalued. They are paid much less—10 per cent less—than a man with the same kinds of qualifications in other, male dominated industries. So what the Canberra Liberals could do would be to support the early childhood sector’s union campaign—the United Workers Union’s campaign—to life the wages and respect the work of early childhood educators. Then we would see many more people choose that career, as their work is valued and that they are paid appropriately for the very important, vital work that they do for our community.

Business—voucher scheme

MR PARTON: My question is to the Chief Minister: the Canberra Liberals have been told that at a meeting of the Canberra Region Tourism Leaders Forum you declared there would be no more voucher schemes in the ACT. The meeting was apparently discussing introducing a voucher scheme to support the hotel sector, and the Canberra Liberals have been told that you said, “We tried it, it didn’t work. We’re not having another voucher scheme.” Chief Minister, were you referring to your government’s failed ChooseCBR scheme and, if not, which voucher scheme were you referring to?

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