Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (28 May) . . Page.. 781 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
Women have borne the brunt of these cuts. Women have lost their jobs in the child-care sector as centres have closed or have reduced their staff numbers; women have reduced their hours of work or stopped work entirely in order to lower their child-care costs; and older women who have long since raised their own families are now being pressured to spend their retirement caring for grandchildren while their children work. There is little choice for women who cannot afford to work because of high child-care costs but who cannot afford to stay home because their family needs more money. Their only choice is unregulated or backyard care. This offers parents no guarantee of the physical or psychological safety of their children.
A questionnaire of parents conducted in the ACT produced the following comments:
I worry that while I continue to find the money (while I can), others will pay cut rate babysitters/backyard operators. Who is caring for Australia's children?
Working mums are a huge proportion of the work force but I feel the Howard Government is ignoring our needs.
It was hard for me to get a job in the first place. Now I am forced to leave my job because of higher child care fees. I enjoy my job ... and don't want to give up paid work.
Under the Federal Labor Government, there was an increase in the number of child-care centres, and these centres all had to be accredited and meet stringent standards of care, staffing and programming. Accredited family day care providers also had to meet certain standards. The forced fee increases mean that in future fewer children will access this quality care.
Mr Speaker, some families are making decisions not to have another child or to delay a second child until the first is out of child care and into school. Federal Government policy is now dictating the shape of Australian families. Quality child care has been under attack from the Federal Liberals for the last two years. I ask: What has this local Liberal Government done to protect it? The Chief Minister has been quick to attack her own Federal Liberal colleagues when she has seen it to be to her political advantage. What about some lobbying on behalf of the children of the Territory who now face a real reduction in the quality of their care?
MR QUINLAN (6.22): Earlier this week I asked the Minister of Urban Services a couple of questions in relation to the future of housing in the Causeway without, I have to say, receiving a satisfactory answer. Today there were some press releases. We had a swap of press releases. A bit of propaganda came out; nevertheless, the people in the Causeway are not going to be well served by this. I am recommending that the Minister for Urban Services get in touch with these people.