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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (28 May) . . Page.. 780 ..

Rates Revenue

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (6.17): In tabling the Rates and Land Tax (Amendment) Bill this morning I mentioned that the overall increase in rates revenue had again been capped by the Government at the CPI increase, which is forecast to be 2.5 per cent in the coming financial year. I should also point out to members that, as well as the CPI adjustment, the revenue target for 1998-99 of $101m includes $850,000 relating to new properties. This figure, in turn, includes an estimated $200,000 related to properties that were previously owned by the Commonwealth and are now liable for rates. Mr Speaker, it is wonderful to see that some of the decisions that the Federal Government made, but not all of them, are now reaping benefits and rewards for the ACT.

Competition Policy Forum : Child Care

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (6.18): I rise to comment on two matters, Mr Speaker. I wish to comment, firstly, about the debate or the public comment that has occurred recently in relation to the Competition Policy Forum. I would like to take this opportunity to indicate the Labor Party's continuing support for the existence and the operation of the Competition Policy Forum. We would like to foreshadow that we would support some serious further consideration by the Assembly of an appropriate role for the forum and perhaps some reassessment of or some focus on the Government's lack of commitment to the Competition Policy Forum. I simply wish to foreshadow that. We believe that the forum, as established by this Assembly, has a vital role to play. It has been ignored. It has not been properly resourced and it has been marginalised. We think that is a situation that should be addressed, and we look forward to doing that in the Assembly.

The second matter I would like to mention, Mr Speaker, is the cuts to child care that have occurred in the ACT and nationally. Earlier this week several of my Labor colleagues attended a rally against child care cuts which was held on the lawns of Parliament House. Some participants in the rally then moved inside to present a submission to the Senate inquiry. I would like to advise the Assembly of some parts of that submission. The submission read, in part:

We believe that ALL CHILDREN have the right to be able to access quality child care in the most appropriate form for that child and family (at home, with family, in a centre or family day care). Quality care requires support from governments and communities via subsidies for programs, information, training and assessment. This support for all children and families should be an urgent priority for all in Australia.

Mr Speaker, over the last two years the Federal Government has ripped over $820m from children's services in Australia. The cuts that necessarily followed in the child-care sector have meant increases in fees, centre closures, redundancies, staff reductions and a consequent drop in the quality of care for our children.

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