Page 1802 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 4 May 2011

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directly and indirectly in excess of $30 million a year. And I cannot for the life of me understand why the Liberal Party would turn its back on a $30 million saving.

In relation to the question of vacant buildings, as members would be aware if they paid attention to the detail of the budget, the government has offered waivers directly in relation to change of use, in relation to stamp duty, for the retrofitting of those buildings, to meet desirable outcomes. We have been sensitive, we have responded, and we have provided incredibly generous conditions to encourage the redevelopment of vacant office blocks, not just in Civic but indeed in each of the town centres, and we have extended that even beyond the town centres in relation to the possible achievement of agreed outcomes through the retrofitting. So we have responded incredibly generously and positively to the needs of the property sector.


MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Children and Young People. Minister, last week you announced $60 million in spending on childcare in the territory. Minister, earlier this week the media reported United Voice ACT branch manager, Yvette Berry, as saying “the package would have little impact on reducing fees”. It is well known that Canberra families pay the highest childcare fees in the country, $60 a week more than anywhere else, and, since you became minister, the cost of childcare in the territory has risen by almost 11 per cent, which is close to double the CPI for the same period. Minister, exactly how will your $60 million package reduce the financial burden on Canberra families for childcare?

MS BURCH: I thank Mr Hanson for his question. I think it was United Voice that also quoted that it was good to see government put their money where their mouth is. That is a good endorsement of this $60 million package.

Mr Corbell: There is some selective quoting going on.

MS BURCH: Yes, selective quoting. This package puts in two childcare services—120 places in the north and 120-plus places in the south. The north one is part of an early childhood education centre.

The package also brings on line five sites that are available to those in the sector and the community who have an interest in bringing on line additional childcare services. This package goes to $9 million worth of capital upgrades to services. That is a direct support to community-based organisations in facilities to cover increased placements. I think anyone will say that improved opportunities and choices for parents are a good thing. This package will improve the choices and opportunities for Canberra families in accessing childcare services. We also know that a market that offers more choice and opportunities can influence the price of children’s services.

Those opposite refer to increases in the cost of childcare services but they forget to say that the federal Labor government has increased the support to families. Out-of-pocket cost, the cost for childcare, continues to decrease or has decreased under the Labor government. And that is good news for Canberra families.

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