Section: Joy Burch, MLA | Media Releases
The Canberra Liberals today tried to pull $7.5 million in funding out of childcare, and withdraw necessary infrastructure to support the community-based childcare sector, ACT Minister for Community Services Joy Burch said.
Ms Burch said Opposition MLA Vicki Dunne's hamfisted (and unsuccessful) attempt today to halt the construction of a 125-place childcare centre in Holder was a slap in the face to the not-for-profit operators that make up more than two of thirds of childcare centres in Canberra, most of which are accommodated in ACT Government-owned buildings.
"It says a lot about just how out of touch the Canberra Liberals are on the issue of childcare that they are now opposing the establishment of additional childcare centres in Canberra, and opposing the provision of community infrastructure," Ms Burch said.
"In contrast, the Canberra Liberals' only childcare policy in the past four years been to create an ACT Government-run centralised childcare waiting list, which would take away the choice for parents of which centre their child attends, and create a bureaucratic burden for centres.
"Perhaps the Canberra Liberals want to halt this development to instead spend the $7.5 million to establish their centralised waiting list, even though the sector and Canberra families reject such a scheme."
Ms Burch said the ACT Government supported a mix of private and community based childcare centres. As well as providing building space for community-based operators to expand into, a number of sites are being released for the purpose of childcare.
"Sites have already been sold in McKellar and Giralang for childcare use in recent months, and sites in Macarthur, Gungahlin and Holt will be released shortly through a similar process, allowing private and not-for-profit providers to bid for the land."
Ms Burch said the ACT Government's considerable investment in childcare in the past two years will support the sector to grow, with more than 500 additional long daycare places created in the past 12 months alone.
"Mrs Dunne is right in saying that ACT Labor promised to build two childcare centres at the 2008 ACT Election, however she is wrong in saying that neither has been delivered.
"The completion and opening of the Flynn Early Childhood Education Centre (115 places) in January this year fulfilled part of that promise."
Ms Burch said the construction of Holder will complete this commitment, however, in addition to these centres the Government also funded in the 2011-12 ACT Budget the construction of a childcare centre in Franklin as part of the $42.7 million Franklin Early Childhood Centre.
"This means the ACT Government is over-delivering on this commitment. In contrast, the Canberra Liberals' 2008 Election policies did not even mention the word ‘childcare', and today we are reminded of just how bereft of policies the Canberra Liberals are."
Ms Burch said this was the latest in a series of attacks on the community sector by the Canberra Liberals in recent years.
"The Canberra Liberals opposed the establishment of a portable long-service leave scheme for community sector workers, and they have flagged that they might not honour the ACT Government's promise to fully-fund the Equal Remuneration pay increase for community sector workers if they win government. Now they want to stop Government investment in community infrastructure."
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