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Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Page: 5245

Senator JACINTA COLLINS (VictoriaParliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations) (18:36): Perhaps I should start by going back to some of the earlier comments by Senator Nash and come to that final question in a moment. Childcare funding is not a cash cow. I am astounded that she would even use an expression such as that when we are dealing with affordability and cost-of-living pressures being faced by families. What this measure seeks to do, as has been covered on many other occasions, is reconfigure existing funding to help ensure that the quality of child care available to families is improved. Certainly this measure does involve saving measures. This measure was government policy at the last election and the minister spoke at several community childcare forums during the election period with parents and childcare workers about the changes. This proposed measure was contained in the 2010-11 budget papers. The minister meets regularly with representatives of the childcare sector including the Childcare Alliance, the Australian Early Childhood Association, Family Day Care Australia and United Voice. All of the sector has been committed to the national quality framework. Indeed, these measures have been discussed and consulted on during countless forums relevant to the national quality framework.

But I need to stress again that what the government is doing here is going to impact on less than one per cent of families with a relatively limited impact to ensure, being fiscally responsible, that we reconfigure existing spending to support and drive the changes in childcare quality that are necessary to deliver good services for Australia's families and children. We have not suggested in any sense that the moneys being accounted for here relate to any new services or the delivery of new services but, rather, to assist existing services make the transition to providing better quality care.