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Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Page: 655

Child Care

Mr BROUGH (Fisher) (15:05): My question, too, is to the Assistant Minister for Education. I remind the minister of her visit to the Sunshine Coast, where she was asked to ensure that there was available and affordable child care as it was vital to our residents. Can the minister outline the childcare sector's response to the government's announcement of a Productivity Commission inquiry into the childcare sector?

Ms LEY (FarrerAssistant Minister for Education) (15:05): Thank you, and welcome back to the member for Fisher—a different seat, but we look forward to the same strong, intelligent contribution to the national debate after an era where intelligent contributions were sadly lacking.

I did indeed visit the now member for Fisher during the election campaign, and came to understand the particular struggles and issues on the Sunshine Coast. I know that his constituents, the educators and the providers in his electorate will have a chance to talk about what they would like to see in the future of childcare policy under this government. The government is going out to ask people what they want, not telling people what they think they need.

The member for Fisher asked for reactions and I am really happy to report that the love is spreading for the Productivity Commission inquiry. Goodstart Early Learning has recognised that it is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to get Australia's policy settings right to deliver access to affordable, high-quality child care and early learning for Australian families. That is the largest single non-profit provider of child care. The Australian Childcare Alliance that represents 70 per cent of long day care centres throughout the country believes that it is timely that this review occurs as the sector is struggling under the burden of red tape and the assessment and rating process. And our friends at United Voice have issued this media release that says 'Educators welcome childcare inquiry'.

I know that there are members opposite who have close links with the union United Voice. Maybe the member for Port Adelaide and the member for Werriwa and the newly elected Senator Sue Lines and Senator Penny Wong might like to talk to the shadow minister, who does not like the current Productivity Commission inquiry into child care, and remind the shadow minister that their union has said:

Everyone involved in the system—parents, educators and providers have been talking about the crisis for years.

Six years, in fact. It goes on:

The Productivity Commission inquiry is a real chance for the new Government to make changes that will see a higher quality education and care.

And United Voice very helpfully makes a point that I often make, that quality early childhood education and care 'has a direct impact on the economy because it is the vital factor in women's workforce participation'. I am delighted to report that the Productivity Commission inquiry is launched and is underway and we have good things to look forward to.