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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 837

Mr TUDGE (Aston) (13:45): I rise to express my concern at changes that the government has made to child care under the National Quality Framework. As of 1 January this year, childcare operators had to reduce their child-staff ratios from five to one to four to one. The impact of this has been to dramatically increase the cost of child care to families. For example, I have in my electorate a mother, Mrs Geeta Kulkarni, from Boronia, whose child attends the Magic Garden Childcare Centre in Ferntree Gully. She informs me that the new changes have led to a fee increase of 21 per cent, or $65 per week. She asks:

Why are we penalised for working hard and paying our taxes? The changes in staff-to-children ratios will not make a life-changing impact on my child. All of us were very happy with the care being provided before.

The government has introduced these new ratios for no discernible benefit. There is no research that says one to four is better than one to five and even if there is, why can't parents make their own decisions about the level of care they want?

If a parent like Mrs Kulkarni is happy with the quality of care, and if the childcare centre is happy to provide that level of quality, then what is the problem that the government is trying to fix? The government is making the cost of child care dramatically more expensive for everyday Australians and making it unaffordable for many, for little benefit. It should abandon this policy. (Time expired)