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Friday, 23 August 1985
Page: 294

Senator CROWLEY —My question is directed to the Minister for Community Services. The Budget announcement about child care places affirms the Government's commitment to providing 20,000 new places over the next three years, including a number to be established this year. Can the Minister give any detail about where these places will be, what is the proposed mix of places, what will be the cost of this commitment to the Commonwealth and what steps will be taken to implement it?

Senator GRIMES —As Senator Crowley has said, the Budget documents point out that the Government intends to and will construct some 20,000 new child care places in the next three years. The Budget Papers also indicate that this will cost $107m, which is a considerable increase on the existing Budget of some $160m and in fact more than the total child care budget when this Government came to power. In the first year there will be a thousand places, but also in the first year approval will be given a year ahead for almost half this total number of 20,000 so that people can plan and get their capital structures off the ground and get their centres operating quickly.

Of the 20,000 places there will be 12,000 centre-based day care places, 4,000 family day care places, 3,000 occasional care places and the equivalent of a thousand places for those with special needs such as migrants, Aboriginals, disabled children and children from remote and isolated areas. The Government is committed to the implementation of this strategy and we will build these 20,000 places. To those who seem to have some doubt about the capacity of this Government to do that in three years I merely point out that in the first 2 1/2 years of this Government we in fact increased the number of child care places by just over 20,000. We increased the number of places by 58 per cent and increased expenditure by 60 per cent. Our policy is clear. We will continue, in other words, to do what we have done in the past, and that is to make up as fast as we can in an economically responsible way for the great lack of child care and children's services that has existed for so long in this country.