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Monday, 15 June 2009
Page: 6019


Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) (6:19 PM) —On the many points raised by the member for Indi, I say as follows. She would be aware that there was a major disruption to the childcare market following the voluntary administration of ABC Learning. She would be aware of that from newspaper reports. She also may be aware of it because there were so many Liberal Party members sitting around the board table of ABC Learning they could have had a branch meeting. They could have had a branch meeting at any time that they chose to whilst they were sitting there—including, of course, former minister Larry Anthony. So, if the member for Indi wishes to seek any advice about the nature of that disruption to the childcare market, she is not short of numbers in her telephone book to place a call to. And I suggest that she does place that call.

Of course, because of the policy and other settings of the former government when faced with the collapse of ABC Learning, we have had to sort out what was a huge mess. We have sorted it out piece by piece, bit by bit, working through it to give as much safety, certainty and security as we possibly could to Australian parents caught up in this. The shadow minister alludes to some centres that have closed. Yes, that is true: some centres have closed. But I invite her to consider what would have happened when ABC Learning announced it was going into voluntary administration if the Australian government had not stepped forward to ensure that there was an orderly process that worked its way through. At some point I would hope that members of the Liberal Party might volunteer some apologies to Australian parents who were caught up in that catastrophic corporate Liberal Party mix.

On the paid parental leave questions that the member asked me, I would say the following. We are, of course, dealing with budget estimates here. I would suggest to the member for Indi that she may want to take a leaf out of the book of the member for Boothby. What I would say about the member for Boothby is that he is a very vociferous user of the questions on notice process. He appreciates that—


Dr Southcott interjecting


Ms GILLARD —And we get back to him with answers. I would invite the member for Boothby to compare my record in delivering answers with the record of any Howard minister that he wants to pick at random and then come and have a conversation with me about whether or not we get him answers. If you have detailed things that you want answers to, I would recommend questions on notice to the member for Indi. She is obviously not sure about that. She may want to talk to the member for Boothby about it.

The member for Indi raised a policy question. This is a government that supports choices by women and by families. This is a government that understands that families will make different decisions at the time that they have a child join their family. Some families will determine for the mother to take a period of time off and then return to the workforce. Some families will determine to take a longer period of time off. We support those choices and, consequently, the government’s policy settings support those choices. It may be useful for the member for Indi to know that, if there is at any point any suggestion that the Liberal Party is going to have a childcare policy, a policy about paid parental leave or a policy about anything else in her portfolio area—for example, preschool or early learning—then we are all ears for it. But we have not heard anything yet. With those words, I think we are at the conclusion of this session.


Dr Southcott —I have a brief question.


Ms GILLARD —Maybe the brief question could be supplied to me and we will answer it. Can I say, Mr Deputy Speaker, that the time for this session has expired. I would remind the members opposite, who are so interested in all of these proceedings, that the routine performance of the Howard ministry was not to attend and to send a parliamentary secretary.