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Democrats denounce crisis of choice for women.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 05/056 WEDNESDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2005 S ENATOR LYN ALLISON AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS LEADER DEMOCRATS DENOUNCE CRISIS OF CHOICE FOR WOMEN The Howard Government policies have created a crisis in childcare places, robbing women of choice to work outside the home, the Australian Democrats said today. The Senate today passed a motion moved by Senator Lyn Allison, Democrats Leader, highlighting the critical shortage of childcare places and calling on the Howard Government to properly fund high quality accessible and affordable childcare. “It is utterly inconsistent that at the same time that moves are being touted by male Government members to remove Medicare funding for abortions and attempting to demonise and shame women who have had abortions, that women who have children are then denied opportunities to participate in the workforce because there is no childcare,” Senator Allison said. Senator Allison said there is growing evidence of a chronic shortage in childcare, particularly for infants and toddlers in Australia's biggest cities. The city of Port Phillip for example has up to 1600 children under-5 years of age on its childcare waiting lists. “Women in inner cities and in rural and regional centres who want to work are reduced to being just a number on a waiting list,” Senator Allison said. “The Government cannot just respond that long day care centres are free to set up anywhere. This ignores the reality that in many parts of Australia there are prohibitive start-up costs and centres in many areas cannot compete with high real estate values.” “Even where there are childcare centres, accessing childcare is still impossible because many centres are simply not interested in babies under-2 years of age because of the resource implications. “We call on the Government to give women a choice - the choice whether or not to have a child and the choice to participate in society with access to quality and affordable early childhood development for their child,” Senator Allison concluded. Media contact Katrina McGrath 0408 056 167