Page 1373 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 9 April 2013

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acknowledge the impact these regulations and requirements would have on the cost of service delivery.

This government refused to acknowledge that increased costs mean increased childcare fees and an increase in the cost of living for Canberra families. This government refused to accept any responsibility for those fee increases. Indeed, it unashamedly washed its hands of that responsibility, simply saying that childcare fees were a matter for the service providers, not the government, even though the government was responsible for much of the increase in the cost of service delivery.

This government has refused to acknowledge that the ACT has the highest childcare fees in the country. The Minister for Disability, Children and Young People has tried to equate childcare fees to cups of coffee. Well, that simply does not wash. According to ROGS 2013, the cost for child care in the ACT in 2012 was $69 per week per child higher than the national average and fully 11 per cent higher than the next highest jurisdiction, New South Wales.

This government made much of the national quality framework, a policy of the federal Labor government to which this ACT Labor government signed with little more than a tug of the forelock. This ACT Labor government asked no questions. This ACT Labor government did no analysis. This ACT Labor government just tugged at its forelock. It did not care about the impact its forelock tugging would have on the capacity of childcare centres to implement the new standards. It did not care what impact it would have on the ability of childcare centres to recruit people with required qualifications from an already tight employment bank. It did not care what impact it would have on the cost of living for Canberra families. It is only thanks to the Canberra Liberals that this ACT Labor government finally put its collective brain to work and put its hand in its pocket to assist the childcare sector.

Ms Burch interjecting—

MR DOSZPOT: Even that was a case of being dragged kicking and screaming, Ms Burch. When the kicking and screaming stopped, it was little more than tokenism, especially for childcare centres operating from their own premises. Government-owned premises would get some money to help with infrastructure modification required to meet the new standards. Did it matter that this would put them at a competitive advantage? No. The government did not care about that.

What about the skill base? The government threw money at that too but, again, only after the Canberra Liberals had shamed them into it. Even so, their strategy is so shallow that it will provide no guarantee of continuity of service in the childcare sector. But do not worry, Mr Assistant Speaker, the portable long service leave scheme will save the sector like a knight in shining armour, or so say the ACT Labor government.

This matter of public importance does highlight the need for investment in early education and child care. But that is all it does do, Dr Bourke—highlight the importance. This government needs to put the rhetoric into action with a comprehensive, holistic plan that takes responsibility for government decisions.

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