Page 1496 - Week 06 - Thursday, 2 July 2020

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MS LE COUTEUR: Chief Minister, are you considering any responses to balance the impact of the early ceasing of the JobKeeper program for early childhood workers?

MR BARR: The ACT government will not be stepping in to create a proxy JobKeeper program to fill the void of the commonwealth. It is not within our immediate administrative capability to deliver income support programs such as a wage subsidy scheme like JobKeeper; however, we do recognise that the commonwealth will need to continue its support of the economy beyond September. I can assure Ms Le Couteur that, through my role in national cabinet and in the Council on Federal Financial Relations, I am regularly raising these issues. I think we have had positive responses from the Prime Minister and the commonwealth Treasurer in recognising the need to extend assistance—

MS LE COUTEUR: Point of order. I specifically asked about childcare workers—the impact on the childcare sector. Could you come to that, Chief Minister?

MADAM SPEAKER: The Chief Minister has made reference to not filling the gap that will be left by the federal JobKeeper arrangements.

MR BARR: To be clear, it will not be possible for the ACT government to establish a job keeper scheme specifically for the childcare industry. We are just not in a position to replicate commonwealth programs. What we can do is continue to advocate within the appropriate national forums—which are the national cabinet and the Council on Federal Financial Relations—for the commonwealth to meet its responsibilities in relation to the childcare sector, just as it needs to across a range of other industry sectors.

Ms Le Couteur would be aware that the commonwealth intervened in the childcare sector and made child care free for a period of time. The commonwealth has obviously announced the ending of that program, but child care is funded by the commonwealth and the ACT simply cannot step in and fill every single gap that the commonwealth leaves. (Time expired.)

Workers compensation—assets

MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety. Minister, audit report No 6 of 2020 relates to workers compensation. The Auditor-General found:

… the Territory does not currently have sufficient assets in its Public Sector Workers’ Compensation Fund to cover its workers’ compensation liabilities.

The Auditor-General also found that uncertainty relating to workers compensation was a financial risk to the territory. Minister, why doesn’t the ACT currently have sufficient assets in its public sector workers compensation fund to cover its liabilities?

MADAM SPEAKER: You are taking this, Mr Barr?

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