Page 3176 - Week 10 - Thursday, 17 September 2015
everyday Canberra families, recommend how we can increase the number of places available in family day care and childcare centres in the ACT, and provide information back to the Assembly in the November sitting period.
The ACT government obviously has a role to play along with the federal government in the provision of childcare services, including long day care. Ms Burch introduced some comments in her motion about preschool. I will leave it to my colleague Mr Doszpot as to whether he wishes to speak to the particular points about preschool. I commend the amendment circulated in my name.
MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (11.23): I also thank Ms Burch for bringing on this motion today because it provides an opportunity to correct the mantra that Labor both here in the ACT and nationwide have been peddling about cuts to education and, in this motion, cuts to community services. The way Labor tells it, the end of the world is nigh and if only we had a federal Labor government all would be right with the world.
Of course, Labor in opposition always have a distorted memory of their years in government, and Ms Burch in particular has a very distorted memory of their years in government. We never hear Labor politicians talking about the billions of wasted funds for the BER halls in schools that were closing, gymnasiums for schools that needed classrooms. Every state, almost every city, has a story of waste to tell. Then, of course, we have their insulation debacle where not only were millions of dollars were lost but so too were lives.
When we look at today’s motion, once again we see more examples of some distortion of the truth. When the federal coalition came to power it inherited dozens of programs that were due to expire with no funding set aside for the outyears, programs that had outlived their usefulness and others that were simply poorly targeted.
I do not intend to go through the aspects of Ms Burch’s motion that relate to community services. Ms Lawder has already done that, and I commend her amendment that she has moved as well. Suffice it to say, Ms Burch’s motion is a bit of a mish-mash of a number of sentiments with perhaps the underlying intention being to slam the federal coalition government. However, in order to do that she needs to keep her claims factual.
I will focus on the preschool aspects of the motion. The announcement today that the ACT government is about to come to an agreement to secure 15 hours of free public preschool education for 2016 and 2017 is welcome news. Canberra should be proud of the fact that we have the highest percentage of children accessing preschool education of any jurisdiction in the country. There are a whole heap of reasons for this, amongst them the fact that we also have a high rate of mothers wishing to participate fully in the workforce, and access to long day care and preschool education facilitates this.
I think it is more than regrettable, however, that this announcement has taken so long to be delivered. It was in May of this year that the federal government announced that funding would be provided for 600 hours for each child in preschool in 2016 and 2017.