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Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Page: 22

Senator CARR (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) (3:04 PM) —Yesterday I was asked a question by Senator Hanson-Young. I seek leave to incorporate further information on that matter.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows—

Further information in response to Senator Hanson-Young’s Question without notice yesterday (Monday 10 November 2008) on ABC Learning Centres

Points taken on notice:

  • When was the Minister first informed of the troubles with ABC Learning?
  • Who are the members of the Child Care Industry Taskforce?
  • Given a spokesperson for Minister Gillard has confirmed that Don Jones of 123 Careers has met with the Taskforce, what other stakeholders has the Taskforce entered into negotiations with?

Talking points:

The Government has been monitoring the developments of the financial difficulties at ABC Learning closely this year.

On September 24 the Deputy Prime Minister established the Child Care Industry Taskforce in her Department which immediately established contact with ABC Learning Directors and their lending syndicate

Up until 2 November ABC Learning Directors, and its lending syndicate were indicating that ABC Learning was aiming to trade itself out of current financial difficulties.

As Senators would be aware, ABC Learning was placed into voluntary administration and receivership on Thursday 6 November.

The Child Care Industry Taskforce is lead by Group Manager, Michael Manthorpe in the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. He is joined by other senior officers with experience in legal and financial natters, early child care and education policy and communications. The team is supported by various other areas of the Department and in regular contact with agencies across the Australian Government and the states and territories

The Taskforce continues to work closely with a number of ABC’s significant stakeholders including the banking syndicate providing funds, the receiver, McGrath Nicol and the Administrator, Ferrier Hodgson, and the LHMU.

As Senators would be aware Parliamentary Secretary McKew is also in regular contact with early childhood education and care stakeholders.

She has been consulting with stakeholders since the election of the Rudd Government including more than 50 stakeholder meetings, 25 child care centre visits and forums have been held in each state and territory.

A Forum with around a dozen peak national child care organisations is being held in Canberra today. The agenda also includes a discussion of the ABC Learning situation.