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Childcare crisis? : Patterson says don't know, don't care.

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Tanya Plibersek MP Shadow Minister for Work, Family & Community Shadow Minister for Youth & Early Childhood Education Shadow Minister for Women

5 April 2005


Evidence continues to mount that there is not enough childcare.

This shortage will become even more acute if sole parents are forced into paid work without the Federal Government creating more childcare places.

Both long day care and after school care is needed.

Labor supports the call by a variety of councils across Australia for a national summit on child care, and calls on the Howard Government to support this excellent idea.

Family and Community Services Minister Kay Patterson is burying her head in the sand, neither interested or willing to tackle the childcare crisis that her Government has caused.

Just last week, in answer to a Senate Estimates question from Labor about where the areas of “unmet demand” are in Australia, Senator Patterson answered:

The Department of Family and Community Services does not collect data to answer this question.

(Question on Notice no. 58)

It is extraordinary and unacceptable that the Government does not know or care where childcare shortages are.

Obviously the Government can do nothing to address childcare shortages if it doesn’t know where the shortages are.

Australian parents rightly expect the Government to respond swiftly and strongly to shortages of childcare, wherever it exists.

Parents, especially sole parents, cannot work if there is no place for their children at a local centre, or no local centre at all.

The Howard Government continues to ignore this reality, after having ditched the childcare industry planning function that used to be carried out by the Commonwealth, as well grants to community (not for profit) child care centres.