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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 68 ..

Child-care places in Gungahlin

MR CORNWELL: My question is to the minister for family services. Mr Corbell, you announced on 5 December that your government would provide for 55 additional child-care places in Gungahlin and claimed that the former Liberal government had ignored this issue. Was the money to fund these additional child-care places part of the $950,000 provided in the 2001-02 Humphries budget? I refer to page 81 of budget paper No 3, which reads:

This initiative aims to increase the availability of child care places in the ACT, by providing capital for the provision of childcare facilities, particularly in the Gungahlin area.

Is the $950,000 in the Humphries budget where the money came from for this initiative or did the federal government, not the current government, provide the money under its child-care responsibilities?

MR CORBELL: Yes, the money has come from within existing appropriations. There is no surprise whatsoever about that. The key issue here that Mr Cornwell fails to address is that if the Liberal Party were still in government those 55 additional child-care places for Gungahlin would not be there. They would not be there because the previous government indicated that it was not prepared to spend additional money to meet immediate need in the Gungahlin area.

Yes, the previous government did make a commitment to establish a 90-place child-care facility in the Gungahlin Town Centre. That is a commitment that this government will be honouring. But additional to those places are the 55 places that we have moved immediately to provide for short-term need.

The previous government was putting in place 90 child-care places, with the new facility to be in place, if I understand correctly, towards the end of next year. That meant Gungahlin families would have been waiting another year before any immediate relief came for child-care facilities. This government did not consider that to be good enough, so it moved immediately to provide for additional places to be in place by March of next year, an additional 55 places at Ngunnawal and Nicholls through the provision of demountable buildings at the Ngunnawal and Nicholls child-care centres. That was an immediate response to demand. It means that, instead of the previous proposal for only 90 child-care places, there will be close to 150.

MR CORNWELL: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. I thank the minister for his clarification of the government's policy. Will he now issue this clarification by means of a media release so that the rest of the community can understand what he was previously talking about?

MR CORBELL: I am very happy to reiterate that, under the previous government, Gungahlin was in line for only 90 places, whereas it is now in line for 150 places. That is the commitment this government has made. I have made no bones of the fact that it has come about within existing appropriations.

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