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Thursday, 30 October 1997
Page: 8468

Senator GIBBS —My question is directed to Senator Herron, the Minister representing the Minister for Family Services. Minister, how does the government justify its proposal that parents of children in child care who fail to provide information about a change of circumstances affecting their child care assistance within 14 days of being asked to provide it are punishable by six months imprisonment?

Senator HERRON —I thank Senator Gibbs for the question. As I understand it, that was a continuation of the previous government's legislation. There were added reasons for its continuation, but as I understand it, it was a continuation of the previous government's legislation. I will get back to you if I am incorrect in that regard. I do not see anything in the brief that covers that particular question and I will get back to you on that if I can obtain any information. It is not in the brief. I have read the brief and I have not seen that particular answer to the question, so I will get back to you on that if there is anything relevant here.

Senator GIBBS —Madam President, I ask a supplementary question. Thank you for that, Minister. Could you ask the Minister for Family Services if that is so and, if that is the case, could this draconian proposal be put forward to the minister and could he be asked to reconsider it?

Senator HERRON —Yes, I am happy to do that. As I understand it from previous information, that was the continuation of legisla tion, as I have said. The opposition has no claim to any great, extraordinary results in relation to the child care legislation which we are now fixing up for them. The approach we are taking is entirely different to what they did. We are now changing the focus from service providers to parents, a rather major change. We are also making a less prescriptive service provision system. We have a series of safety nets to ensure that families with children who require additional support are able to access the child care that they require, unlike what was available under the previous administration. (Time expired)