Page 159 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 28 November 2012

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The ACT currently has 120 approved centre-based services providing full day care that support working families. There are also four family day care services, with a fifth service being assessed for approval. In addition, the government funds the provision of 74 public preschools, with two more preschools nearing completion in Gungahlin. Additional places will continue to come online as a result of the $9 million investment put aside for infrastructure in 2011-12. Upgrades to existing education and care centres are also well underway and will provide around 200 additional places.

Further investment in the last budget will see this growth continue. We have committed to another 100 places through further upgrades and extensions to existing centres. This is on top of the government’s investment of $42 million to build the early childhood school in Franklin, which will include a 120 place education and childcare service. We are also investing $7 million to build a centre at Holder to accommodate 125 children. It is my understanding that the DA has been lodged. There are also a number of private providers intending to establish new services in the ACT.

For example, a new childcare centre will be built in Gungahlin following the recent sale of land for a value of $2.4 million. That will be located on the corner of Anthony Rolfe Avenue and Hinder Street. There are at least 80 places there. Between 80 and 125 places will come online at Holt following the sale of a block to a developer there. A recently released site was purchased at McKellar. Only in this week’s Chronicle there was notice of a new private enterprise opening in Crace. For the Canberra Liberals, through Mr Hanson, to say that there is no facilitation of investment by the private sector here could not be further from the truth.

It is also worth noting that 72 per cent of services here in the ACT are with community organisations. They are run by not-for-profit community organisations and 18 per cent are privately owned. Thirty-five of those community-managed services are operated by properties owned by the Community Services Directorate of the government.

I am not quite sure what Mr Hanson is trying to do by saying that we should not be investing in bricks and mortar to support children’s services, given that over 70 per cent of services provided to mum, dad and kids here in the ACT are through community organisations. I am not quite sure if you are asking them to go out and find their own capital costs, Mr Hanson.

MADAM SPEAKER: Ms Burch, could I remind you of standing order 42 and ask you to address the chair, not Mr Hanson.

MS BURCH: I will, Madam Speaker, and I would, through you, say that it is the Canberra Liberals’ policy now to ask community organisations to come up with their own capital infrastructure cost. At a time when demand is high for places, it is critical that we consider the quality of care. It is worth noting, though, that in 2010 we did have a reported vacancy rate of nine per cent and in June 2011 that vacancy rate was 16 per cent. While it is certainly still tight in the sector, I think that demonstrates that the investment that this government has put in is making a difference in the places available for Canberra families.

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