Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 28 October 2010) . . Page.. 5284 ..
1997—I think that is the coalition’s period—it actually increased by 42.9 per cent. So I should be asking Ms Dunne about the cost of childcare.
MR SPEAKER: Order, members! Mr Hanson! Mr Coe! Mr Smyth! Ms Burch, I am not sure if it is deliberate or inadvertent but I think Mrs Dunne does prefer to be known by the prefix “Mrs”. If we could stick to that, I would appreciate it.
MS BURCH: Absolutely. I do apologise.
MRS DUNNE: Thank you for your intervention, Mr Speaker. I have a supplementary question.
MR SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne.
MRS DUNNE: Minister, are you or any of your staff or officials aware of any evidence that would support your assertion that the rising cost of childcare will not force parents out of the workforce?
MS BURCH: I do not have a name of studies, but I know that the RIS that came with the quality agenda outlined a range of proposals and propositions about inclusiveness and the impact of the new quality framework of childcare, which those opposite seem to oppose kicking and screaming. I think that Ms Dunne—Mrs Dunne; I do apologise—will find in the RIS that indeed there is nothing to say that the cost of childcare or women’s participation in the workforce will be adversely affected by the quality agenda.
MR COE: My question is to the Minister for Women. Minister, the Commonwealth Treasury recently published a paper called “New estimates of the relationship between female labour supply and the cost, availability and quality of childcare”. Minister, Treasury state in the paper that “if the gross childcare price increases by one per cent, the employment rate of married mothers with young children would be expected to decrease by 0.3 per cent”. In that paper, Treasury concludes that “our new estimates suggest that the cost of childcare does have a significant negative effect on the labour supply of married mothers of young children”. Minister, do you agree with this assessment by the Commonwealth Treasury?
MS BURCH: Again, I go to the habit of those opposite to have a piece of paper and to make some quotes that are sometimes outright incorrect and are sometimes, indeed, mischievously wrong. The information that I have in front of me indicates that there is no clear relationship between the female participation rate and cost in the ACT, and the current level of female participation in the trend in the ACT is slightly above its long-term average level. Moreover, the current female participation rate in the ACT is around an average 10 percentage points higher than the national female participation rate of 58.8 per cent. This shows that the ACT consistently records higher female participation compared to the national average.