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Minister back peddles on Cabinet proposal.



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Jacinta Collins LABOR SENATOR FOR VICTORIA SHADOW MINISTER FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH

Monday, 12 April 2004

Minister back peddles on Cabinet proposal

A leaked Cabinet submission proves that last year the Minister believed that he needed to provide for an additional 40 000 Child Care places to meet unmet demand.

But in the December 2003 allocation of Child Care places the Minister could only get the Cabinet to agree to 10 000 extra Outside School Hours Care places and 2500 Family Day Care places.

Now the Minister is back peddling. He could not get the Cabinet to support the additional places so now he is suggesting that demand was never as high as he originally proposed.

However, the latest issue of Child Care Australia (produced triennially by the Australian Bureau of Statistics), showed that in June 2002 there was 47 800 children in need of Before and After School Hours Care, 46 300 children in need of Long Day Care and 37 600 children in need of occasional care.

The Prime Minister has already admitted that “the childcare system is not perfect” and that the “Government is looking at what needs to be done to allow the system to respond more effectively to demand”.

But the Howard Government has allowed unprecedented levels of unmet demand to build up.

The system is at absolute crisis point. Tens of thousands of working families can’t access quality, affordable childcare.

The Government must not continue to patronise families and the sector with hollow words. They have to act now to provide the places that will ease the pain afflicting Australian families.

Inquiries: Lizzie Blandthorn 0407 689 244 Jacinta Collins 02 6277 5880