Page 5319 - Week 14 - Thursday, 19 November 2009

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Childcare—portable long service leave

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Disabilities, Housing and Community Services and relates to the policy of portable long service leave and how it might affect childcare centres in the ACT. Minister, what consultation took place between the government and childcare providers prior to the development of the portable long service leave policy for childcare workers and its passage through the Assembly?

MS BURCH: Again, I am overwhelmed by the interest of the opposition party to the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services.

Mr Seselja: Overwhelmed by the simplest of questions.

MS BURCH: Simple minds, simple minds. ACT government is committed to implementing the portable long service leave scheme. You on the other side clearly have no regard for the sector or the employees in the sector. A portable long service leave is in the best interests of community services. The community were engaged, actively engaged, in the lead-up to and the discussion around portable long service leave. The scheme will support community organisations and the childcare sector retain a skilled work force. That fosters, indeed, Mrs Dunne, a more sustainable childcare industry, which I do not think you actually have an interest in, because you are not supporting a sustainable work force.

Mrs Dunne: How did you consult with them?

MS BURCH: There was ongoing discussion with the community sector, even in the week leading up to the bill coming into this Assembly. I can only say that every opportunity the Liberals have to sacrifice employment entitlements they will take, and that is shown here again today and last week when they voted down the bill. The Liberals must want Work Choices to come back, but it will not, because we are ensuring that workers’ rights are maintained.

Mrs Dunne: What did you say to the childcare centres about the implementation of the scheme?

MS BURCH: There was a forum. In 2008, there was the ACT children’s services forum, Mrs Dunne, which examined options to address work force issues in the ACT children’s services sector. Portable long service is a key work force issue, Mrs Dunne, contrary to your belief.

MRS DUNNE: Supplementary question, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne, a supplementary question.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, did certain childcare operators indicate that they currently put aside the requisite 1.67 per cent of their salaries to cover the long service leave entitlements of their employees, and did they indicate what happens to this cash after employees leave without accruing long service leave entitlements?

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