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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 15 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 December 2009) . . Page.. 5458 ..

MS BURCH: Thank you for the question. Yes, COAG has, indeed, endorsed early childhood and education reform. It is on quality and safety for our young children. That is the premise; that is the base from which it starts. It will bring in quality safety across ratios of worker to child. It will bring in quality and safety through education and qualifications for the workers.

In response to the question on cost, the commonwealth commissioned Access Economics to provide modelling, and that information is available publicly. I would direct Mrs Dunne to where a copy of the Access Economics modelling is available.

MR SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne, a supplementary question?

MRS DUNNE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. On the back of the Access Economics report, minister, will the government be providing support to childcare operators to minimise fee increases as a result of the change to the ratios?

MS BURCH: With respect to cost increases, any cost increases are likely to be met through subsidies such as the childcare benefit, state and territory government funding arrangements and those to early childhood education providers. But it is worth noting that the CCB increased under the federal Labor government from 30 per cent to 50 per cent. So that is a 20 per cent decrease in childcare fees under the federal government through its increase in CCB. I think we have had this discussion before around the cost of childcare fees. They are individual operators and, as such, they determine their own fee structures.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, a supplementary question?

MR SMYTH: Yes, thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, will the increase in childcare fees that result from this policy provide a disincentive for parents wishing to re-enter the workforce after having children and what impact will this have on the ACT economy more broadly?

MS BURCH: There are many reasons behind participation in the workforce. Childcare supports the workforce. The ability of families to access quality, safe childcare placements actually increases participation in the workforce.

Mr Hanson interjecting—

MS BURCH: The new framework is around lowering staff to child ratios. It is around new qualifications—

Mr Hanson interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Hanson, you are making far too many interjections today. I ask you to continue question time in silence. Thank you. Minister Burch, you have the floor.

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