Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 4 May 2011) . . Page.. 1803 ..
MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, a supplementary?
MR HANSON: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, why under your watch has the cost of childcare in Canberra increased by around twice the rate of the CPI?
MS BURCH: Also under my watch we have brought on an additional 1,000 childcare places here in the ACT. Those opposite forget to bring that in as well. The cost of childcare is determined by the centre. That is a factor that is foremost. Whilst they are self-determining, they choose their cost for services. I know, as I move around the childcare services sector and talk with families, that the important thing for families is choice, accessibility and the quality of the provision of their early education and care services.
When we combine the childcare rebate and the childcare benefit there are significant supports to Canberra families, but we recognise that with the national reforms there will be challenges for families across the sector, which is why we have invested $60 million across capital infrastructure, across capital upgrades and across producing more market competition with the five sites. We also go, in respecting the workforce, to putting in a scholarship program for them. So this government is investing in children’s services.
I will be interested to hear tomorrow in the opposition’s budget reply how they will address the implementation of quality children’s services, because the only thing I have heard from them over there is the centralised waiting list. For the life of me I do not understand how that will impact on costs for childcare services.
Mrs Dunne: The Chief Minister agrees with me.
MS BURCH: He does not, Ms Dunne, and you know that. I would ask Ms Dunne again to provide the policy outline of the centralised waiting list and how that will improve quality, reduce waiting times, reduce cost or indeed support a workforce.
MRS DUNNE: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker.
MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mrs Dunne.
MRS DUNNE: Minister, what programs and processes do you have in place to ensure that your so-called $60 million worth of spending will enable childcare centres in Canberra to be ready to meet the new challenges on 1 January 2012?
MS BURCH: The package has been welcomed by the sector. I remind those opposite that all of our services—that is, every single long-day care centre here in the ACT—already meet the over-two carer-to-child ratio. That is something that I think I pointed out that Ms Dunne did not quite get in her earlier media releases, where she did not understand the environment and the sector here in the ACT. So she gets it wrong.
Close to 40 per cent, and I think increasingly over 40 per cent, of our services already meet the under-two ratios of carer to child. We are investing $9 million in capital