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Wednesday, 16 August 2000
Page: 19109

Mr SWAN (2:04 PM) —My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Community Services. Minister, will you guarantee to increase funding for welfare to work programs for lone parents in areas like child care and education and training before increasing their mutual obligation requirements?

Mr ANTHONY (Minister for Community Services) —It is interesting that the member for Lilley should be asking questions about child care. Certainly the indicative evidence that we have received since the new child-care benefit has come in is that more families are receiving increased child-care assistance and more centres are almost reaching full capacity due to the increase in child-care benefit. There are a number of child-care centres, including the Gumnut Child-Care Centre in Sale in the member for Gippsland's electorate, where there has been a huge increase in the interest of child care. In Merimbula in Smarties Long Day Care Centre there has also been a large increase. Interestingly, St Paul's Lutheran Child-Care Centre—and you may know that one, member for Lilley, because it happens to be in your electorate—have noticed a big difference in that they are now full. There have been no fee increases, parents are happy and things are a lot better.

The tax system has demonstrated that with the increases in family assistance and the substantial increases in child-care benefits, Australian families are much better off with the introduction of the new tax system—not to mention the substantial reductions in personal income taxes that they have been receiving. Indeed that is why it takes a coalition government, a Liberal-National Party government, to embark on welfare reform, recognising that we do not want to see people trapped in welfare dependency where it is becoming intergenerational, which was ingrained when the Australian Labor Party had stewardship of this government.