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Federal government's grotesque child care priorities: millions going to large companies while low income earners miss out



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NEWS RELEASEUNDER EMBARGO UNTIL 8.00 PM 10 AUGUST 1991

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S GROTESQUE CHILD CARE PRIORITIES: MILLIONS GOING TO LARGE COMPANIES WHILE LOW INCOME EARNERS MISS OUT

At the very time when many child care centres are half empty because of the recession, the Federal Government is spending millions of dollars on pressuring large national and

multinational corporations to build vastly expensive and unnecessary new facilities, Opposition Shadow Minister for child Care Senator Richard Alston told the annual meeting of the Association of Child Care Centres of New South Wales.

Speaking in Sydney on Saturday night, Senator Alston said: "This is a grotesque distortion of priorities - the real need is at the bottom end of the market where more families than ever before are now unable to afford access to child care centres.

Yet the Federal Government is pouring tens of millions of dollars into building brand new centres without even bothering to survey the real child care needs and available resources of parents and children.

In the second half of 1990 the number of government funded nonĀ­ profit long day child care centres actually fell by 15- at the very time that the Government is blithely pushing ahead with an extensive national program to build another 80 non-commercial

centres over the next 12 months - at a cost approaching $40

million.

In Victoria alone where five centres have closed in recent times, the Government is committed to building another 22 centres, at a cost of around $10 million.

Not only is the Government pushing ahead with the construction of new centres, rather than exploring leasing or conversion opportunities, but it is simultaneously closing down existing occasional care centres which are currently heavily underutilised and could easily absorb additional numbers.

In 1989 the then Minister for Health Dr Blewett gave a solemn assurance that planning for new community based centres would have regard to the location of existing commercial centres.

ENQUIRIES: Melbourne 03 - 622521 Canberra 062 - 727764

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All the evidence to date suggests that this promise has been flagrantly ignored. My recent visits to child care centres in the Melbourne metropolitan area, show that the Government is already constructing many new centres in very close proximity to existing centres.

The Government and the ACTU seem determined to push for employer based child care facilities irrespective of tax payer cost or the real needs of parents.

Only last week Ericsson Australia, in conjunction with the Federal and State Governments and the Migrant Education Centre are spending over $600,000 on constructing a 60 place centre located within minutes of a range of other community-based centres already hard hit by the recession and with more than

enough capacity to absorb the children of Ericsson employees.

This manic determination to force employers to contribute to the cost of new facilities is likely to put at risk and perhaps out of business some 6 to 8 commercial centres located within a 5 mile radius.

The tragedy is that these sorts of Government circuses will do nothing to reduce the cost of child care and will simply

perpetuate existing inequities and bloated cost structures.

A Coalition Government will undertake radical surgery to ensure that the very important child care needs of parents are met in the most efficient manner. It is time to end the rorts.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: (03) 817 1675