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Thursday, 14 November 1985
Page: 2137

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(11.21) —I dare say that is so but I point out, again to use an example in Senator Baume's own State, that in the western suburbs of Sydney the Penrith Council and the Fairfield Council have combined with the State Government to build child care centres and run those centres. There has been a very great expansion in that area, and we have not had this problem there. How we go about assessing the situation is that the budget put forward by the Prahran Council or any other council is considered by the Office of Child Care in conjunction with the Council. Guidelines are set down for the provision of assistance, at the highest level, for reasonable costs. Those guidelines are available. The Council knew that they were available. As I said, other councils and community groups all over the place run child care centres, and they do not run up the costs that the Prahran Council ran up in this case. I think it is up to the Prahran Council to ask itself: Why are our costs so high? In particular, why are they so much higher than those of other councils?

Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle —Are the health and other requirements of the Victorian Government higher?

Senator GRIMES —No; in fact, the Victorian Government's requirements are not that rigid. One of the problems that Prahran Council and some of the people in Victoria are worried about is that the Victorian licensing requirements are such that it would be possible-if we let people do so, but we will not-to hire juniors to run child care centres and that sort of thing. The Victorian Government is correcting that at the moment. There are sometimes problems with awards in Victoria, as the former Minister will well remember, not only in this area but also in the nursing homes area. It gets down to the fact that we cannot load our assistance for children's services in a State such as Victoria just on the basis of a council's self-imposed high standards. We can certainly assist people where there are unavoidable high costs but I believe that the Municipal Association of Victoria has a fair way to go. It should make concessions to the Federal Government just as the Federal Government has made concessions to it.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Department of Health

Proposed expenditure, $658,437,000.