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Thursday, 14 November 2013
Page: 338

Child Care


Mrs MARKUS (Macquarie) (14:50): My question is to the Assistant Minister for Education. Can the minister explain to my constituent Sylvia Mollison, a family day-carer of Springwood in my electorate of Macquarie, how the government plans to address the impact of red tape and changes in the childcare sector that have led to increased fees for parents?


Ms LEY (FarrerAssistant Minister for Education) (14:51): I thank the member for Macquarie for her question and also thank her for a visit to her electorate in July this year where we went to the Bunya Child Care Centre and witnessed an Indigenous Welcome to Country and dance, which was very special. One of the critical issues that was raised by the member for Macquarie's childcare centres and services was the amount of red tape under which all services are operating. As shadow minister visiting hundreds of centres across the country, it was a theme that I heard many, many times.

The coalition government wants a thriving childcare and early-learning sector that delivers flexible, accessible and affordable quality education and care. But, as we know, Labor's agenda is to tax, spend and interfere. And nowhere is that interference written larger than in the amount of red tape and regulation that childcare services face.

The point I want to make is that much of this does not relate to the critical relationship inside the childcare centre, which is between the educator and the child. We have absolute commitment to quality, education and care, but we recognise that the volume of red tape under which services have been operating is just too much. It is pushing up the cost of child care and parents are rapidly finding that child care is becoming unaffordable which, in turn, influences their participation in the workforce and influences the productivity of the nation as a whole.

So I look forward to reassuring the member for Macquarie's constituents and taking the real-world examples that she, as well as members from other electorates, may bring to this place about how we can actively pursue an agenda that reduces costs around red tape.

I also want to mention that we are, as promised prior to the election, announcing the first public examination of Australia's childcare and early-learning system in almost 20 years, with a Productivity Commission inquiry which will look at the policy settings from a generation ago and reflect new ones for the future.