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Monday, 21 June 2004
Page: 30907

Mr SWAN (3:21 PM) —My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Minister, did the government's leaked cabinet work and family documents detail critical long day care shortages in outer metropolitan areas including Penrith, Blacktown, Melton, Brimbank, Hume, Wanneroo, Joondalup and Stirling? Can the minister confirm that the $110 million the government is spending on political advertising could have purchased around 55,000 additional long day care child-care places in these outer metropolitan areas?

Mr ANTHONY (Minister for Children and Youth Affairs) —I thank the member for Lilley for his question, because it gives an opportunity for the government to talk about its very proud record when it comes to child care. Indeed, since we came to government the number of child-care places has gone up by 73 per cent—that is, from 300,000 to over 530,000 places. When you look at outside school hours care you see a 234 per cent increase in places. When you look at family day care you see a 23 per cent increase in places. There has even been a 22 per cent increase in child-care services.

The member for Lilley asks about some areas where there is unmet demand. I am very happy to inform him that one of the measures in the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy that was mentioned only a couple of weeks ago in connection with the child-care support program is incentives for long day care centres to be established in areas of unmet demand. For the first time we have made provision for centres that can go into outer metropolitan areas and regional and rural areas. That was never available under the Australian Labor Party. Frankly, the greatest risks to the child-care sector are the attitude taken by the ACTU, where you call long day care providers abhorrent and you call the corporates evil, and your consistent policy of talking it down.

The SPEAKER —Order. The minister will address his remarks through the chair.

Mr ANTHONY —When it comes to advertising, why don't you hand back the $6,721 that, as the minister for health eloquently says, you trouser every day for Centenary House?