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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2010) . . Page.. 218 ..

MS BURCH: Oh, it is a typo from Mrs Dunne—deary, deary! Then she goes on to indicate, or tries to make reference to ACT Labor having no long-term plans. Wrong! In 2009 we put on 666 places. In 2010 we will put in more than 460 places. So by the end of this year we will have over 16,000 childcare places across the sector. We also work with the Children’s Services Forum. As I have said, we are broadly working with the sector on the issues of supply, demand, workforce development and capacity building. Madam Deputy Speaker, this government is investing in childcare centres. I do not support Mrs Dunne’s motion and I ask that the Assembly support my amendments.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (5.03): Childcare is as critical an issue in the ACT as it is nationally. It is an area of life that affects families, the business community, government, schools, childcare providers and, most importantly, children. It is a costly part of many families’ budgets and requires the assistance of federal funding to assist those who qualify to meet these costs.

We know from the 2008-09 ROGS that the ACT has the highest rates of childcare costs in Australia. It begs the question of why childcare in the ACT is the most expensive. It is critical for the people of the ACT to understand why they are paying more.

One of the reasons I want to mention here and one of the factors that plays into this issue is that there is an issue around the market and the market setting costs. I do take on Mrs Dunne’s comments today that a large part of our childcare providers are community based—I think something like 80 per cent are community-based—but also one of the factors is around market costs.

Demand is high. The average income for Canberra households is relatively high compared to other states. I know that average income figures do not tell the whole story of Canberra families, but we need to understand that that is one of the factors around this issue and that is partly why we pay more for our services. I will go into some other reasons a little further along, but we do need to be asking the ACT government, and it is important for the ACT government to clearly explain, why these costs are higher.

I am pleased to see that Mrs Dunne notes in her motion the importance of community-based childcare in the ACT. Community-based childcare tends to be not for profit, and it is a very large part of Canberra’s childcare industry—as I said, something like 80 per cent. Community-based childcare centres often pay above award wages and provide better conditions for their workers in order to retain workers and to provide the best care, with continuity of care, to Canberra’s families. Given that community centres treat their workers so well and offer such great outcomes for our children, private centres also have to pay their workers more and offer better conditions to compete for staff and clients.

This is a really important point. If you want quality childcare, you need to pay people a proper wage. The ACT should be proud of its record where our childcare workers

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