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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1095..


MRS BURKE (continuing):

I also want to say about the amendment that it is disappointing that, now we have majority government, every motion put up in this place by the opposition or the crossbench member is slashed mercilessly. We do not seem to have a government which has the courage and the guts to debate issues before it, and all the time we are seeing motions being slashed and torn apart in a way that ruins the whole essence of what they stand for.

As Mrs Dunne said, the community expects us to stand up and debate things in this place, yet when we try as members to stand up for our constituents we have the government changing the whole theme of what we are talking about. Changing motions shows to me that members of the government obviously do not want to debate things, do not want to be answerable and do not want to be accountable.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.32): I thank members of the Assembly for their interest in this issue. It will be reassuring for the community to know that members of the Assembly are concerned about the provision and quality of childcare, but I think they would be very disappointed with the government's reaction. I am sure they are anyway.

I agree with Ms Gallagher's critique of the federal government's funding model. I am someone who does not need childcare now but, as a sole parent, I needed childcare for my daughter for a period after she was two years of age. Basically, I feel that childcare providers have been co-parents with me and I have been very lucky in that I have been able to access parent-run models, first of all in a cooperative community childcare centre in Fitzroy in Melbourne and then here on the ANU campus. So I know how important it is.

There is so much guilt out there for parents—for a start, parents who do use childcare and then for parents who do not use childcare. The whole business of being a parent is guilt ridden. Once upon a time it was seen as the family's domain but, I am sorry, things have changed and it is now the domain of the state. We have an ACT government that is putting out the call for families to come to the ACT because we are short of skilled workers—skilled workers, note; we have plenty of workers who would probably like to gain skills so that they could be paid workers—but it is a false promise if we do not offer them the full package.

Okay, we might have the jobs and we know that there is a problem with affordable accommodation but, as I said in my speech earlier, you have practically got to put your child on a waiting list from the moment that you conceive to get into a childcare centre. How are people who have already got children going to come here full of hope and step into a childcare centre? It is duplicitous, to my mind.

The federal government model is wrong. The funding model is wrong. It is wrong to steer money into services through parents' bills because it places the onus on the centre and denies the role of the federal government. It tries to turn it into an exchange between a family and the service. Meanwhile, the federal government sits back, keeping its hands behind its back in terms of distributing the dollars. That is a wrong relationship. I know that childcare centres operated much better when they were funded.


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