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Tuesday, 5 November 1996
Page: 6523

Mr KELVIN THOMSON(4.54 p.m.) —Prior to the adjournment last night, I was relating to the House correspondence which the Treasurer (Mr Costello) received from a Ms Gilda Villani of Pascoe Vale concerning the child-care decisions being made by the government in the Child Care Legislation Amendment Bill. Ms Villani states:

Is your strategy in assisting the middle and lower class workforce, (particularly working mothers) by forcing them out of employment and back into the kitchen . . . this mentality of yours is well out of date.

It certainly is. She goes on:

Wake up Mr. Costello and listen to our genuine concerns, we are saying we want to be able to afford quality care for our children, we did not ask you to make it a luxury. More importantly you must retain Subsidised Community Based Child Care Centres that don't put profits before the quality care of children . . .

I think they are very important points. The letter is signed by Ms Gilda Villani, who signs herself off as `one of many thousands of angry working mothers'.

Further, this bill represents yet another government broken election promise. If we go back to the pre-election period, the government made a commitment to retain—I guess that must have been a non-core commitment—the non-means tested child-care cash rebate and the system of child-care assistance. But what we see now is the abolition of operational subsidies for community based long day care centres, the government will not provide capital funding to build the promised 5,500 new long day care places, it is restricting eligibility for child-care assistance and it is applying a means test to the child-care cash rebate.

Once again, we have seen a Labor government acting as the enlargers, expanding child care from 46,000 places—a derisory 46,000 places—to 270,000 places, just as we expand ed tertiary education places massively, just as we expanded secondary education from one-third of all children completing secondary education to better than two-thirds, just as we expanded health insurance to those two million people who were uninsured who were without health insurance when we came to government, just as we expanded superannuation from a narrow elite to encompass the overwhelming majority of Australian workers, just as we expanded jobs with our job creation programs. We created some 700,000 new jobs in our final term of office.

In all those areas Labor were the enlargers. In all these areas we have seen a coalition government come in and put a stop to it. Once again, we are seeing this legislation putting a stop to the growth in child-care assistance, putting a stop to child care being affordable and accessible in the way it should be. I ask all members to support the opposition amendment.