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Monday, 16 June 2003
Page: 16403

Ms GAMBARO (3:27 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Would the minister inform the House of the government's commitment to supporting child care, particularly family day care?

Mr ANTHONY (Minister for Children and Youth Affairs) —I thank the member for Petrie for her question. She is a tremendous advocate for children, particularly for Commonwealth funded child care in her electorate—indeed, I know she does a lot of work across in Lilley as well, because she knows she can get results on this side of the House. There is no doubt that family day care, along with many other forms of Commonwealth funded child care, has been a tremendous success, giving families flexibility with children and with their care arrangements. With family day care specifically, we have seen a very large increase since 1996—a 17 per cent increase from 60,000 to 71,000 places. There are 113,000 families who currently use family day care. They receive about $240 million directly in child-care benefits, or about $2,100 for every child. What is interesting is that the average fee for family day care is around $65 a week. If you break that down to a per annum figure, it is about $13 a day. More interesting is that 30 per cent of those families using the average amount of care pay less than $5 a week. The gap fee is less than $5 a week. The reason for this is that we have significantly increased funding through the child-care benefit. Another interesting note when it comes to family day care is that we spend $60 million through the broadband on family day care, which is about $1,000 per place going to family day care. I must say that we have had very good cooperation from all the key stakeholders, particularly in the development of how we can do it better in the appropriation of those resources to the changing nature of Australian families.

Ms Roxon —Can you just guarantee their funding?

Mr ANTHONY —I hear the shadow spokesman shouting out.

The SPEAKER —Order! The minister will ignore interjections.

Mr ANTHONY —It is interesting to note that Jo Comans, who is the Executive Director of the National Family Day Care Council of Australia, congratulated the government on the transparency of the process that we are going through. Unfortunately, we do not see that transparency, or even an appropriate debate, from the Labor Party—it is back to their stock standard ALP policy of scaring families. Far from me to comment on this, but I noticed a comment on the Insiders program by the main writer for the Sydney Morning Herald, Mike Seccombe, that I thought demonstrated this lack of policy. He was talking about the member for Lilley—perhaps the last swansong?—and if ever there was one example of everything that is wrong with the modern Labor Party, it is Wayne Swan. He is unimaginative and poll driven; he is a shocker.

Mr ANTHONY —I know, Treasurer. I am sure there are 58 people on that side who would agree with me. What it does demonstrate is that the ALP still lacks a policy position when it comes to work and family and when it comes to children. It is this government, with its example of increased funding for family day care, that is giving greater opportunities and more flexibility to Australian children.

Mr Howard —Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.