Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 7 December 2011) . . Page.. 5797 ..
showing today that they have no concern about the rising cost of childcare and the impacts that that will have on Canberra families.
These are significant issues and the only people in the ACT who are interested in this issue and who are prepared to make a stand on it are the Canberra Liberals. In doing so we have to take into account that the formal childcare sector that Minister Burch likes to talk about, that Minister Burch likes to produce glossy magazines about, is only half of the childcare sector in the ACT. The people who will be missing out if they are driven out of the formal childcare sector will be the poor. If things continue as they are, there are very high risks that the people most in need of quality early intervention with their children, the poor, will be driven out of the childcare sector because they will not be able to afford the costs.
We have seen year in, year out—and we saw the last Productivity Commission report point to the fact—that on average Canberra families pay $60 a week more than the average Australian family for childcare. We are already paying over the odds and that is a great shame. This minister says: “I’ve got nothing to do with that. You know, it is like the price of cornflakes; they go up, and I’ve got nothing to do with it.” But she signed up to a framework which is driving up the costs.
The minister keeps saying that the Productivity Commission is about Australia-wide figures. We understand that. We acknowledge that. And what we are calling for today is for the government to drill into the Productivity Commission’s report, to look at all the factors that the Productivity Commission has pointed out and to come up with an answer about how that relates to the ACT. The people of the ACT should not have to wait another six or seven months. If this minister is so engaged and knows so much about childcare and her department knows so much about what is going on in childcare, it should be no effort for the government to take out the figures that relate to the ACT and present them in a way that is comprehensive and available to the people of the ACT.
For the minister to come in here today and say, “We expect you to wait another seven months for this information,” is unreasonable. The minister is very quick to come in here and say: “There is nothing to see here. We’ve got figures that show it.” If the government have got figures to show the Productivity Commission is wrong, bring it forward; bring it forward in the first week that we come back next year. They are so quick to come out and say the Productivity Commission is wrong. Show us. Show the community where the Productivity Commission is wrong when it says that childcare prices will rise by 15 per cent. Show us how that is wrong for the ACT. Show us where the Productivity Commission says that wages will need to rise by 10 per cent; show us how that is not the case in the ACT and say whether that is a desirable thing or not. Where the Productivity Commission says that there will be serious workforce shortages, tell us how that will not be the case in the ACT. When the Productivity Commission tells us, as Ms Hunter pointed out, that disadvantaged children—children with special needs, Indigenous children—are not getting the services they need in early childhood education, tell us how that is different in the ACT. Tell us how the ACT is performing better than everywhere else.
Ms Burch sits here with her uninterested look. She has no interest, she has no knowledge, and she does not care. She has taken up the rhetoric of her Labor mates up