Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Labor misses mark on child care initiative

Labor has resorted to taking cheap and inaccurate political shots over an important Howard Government child care initiative that will greatly assist parents seeking care.

Tanya Plibersek is wrong to criticise the Government’s National Childcare Management System by claiming it will not address availability of places.

The Government gave a commitment to setting up the system in the 2006-07 Budget. The proposal is still undergoing the necessary business case validations but tenders will be called within months. At that stage more detail will be provided. Such detail is not available for discussion at the Estimates Committee hearing that Tanya Plibersek is trying to verbal.

The introduction of the system would provide more information than ever before on child care availability, supply and use.

Services would benefit from streamlined processes and less administrative burden. It would improve efficiency and accountability across the child care sector.

The system builds on the previously announced Child Care Access Hotline, which will be expanded to include information on the availability of child care places at individual child care centres.

From July 1 2006, families can ring the Child Care Access Hotline on 1800 670 305 to find out whether there are vacancies in their local area.

The National Childcare Management System stands in contrast to Labor’s silence on gathering necessary market information except an abortive plan to have up to 600 separate waiting lists held by local councils.

Despite the absence of any information about supply, demand or usage or land availability, Labor has a cobbled together plan to build child care centres on school grounds at significant and unnecessary expense. Labor has no valid data on which to base its ill-conceived proposal.

Not only does the Howard Government have a fully considered plan for better market information, it is also building on a record investment in child care – $10 billion over four years to 2009-10 – which is double what Labor spent. The number of places will also increase to 700,000 – which is more than double the 300,000 places available under Labor.