TRANSCRIPT: Interview – Channel Ten – Wake Up

  • Assistant Minister for Education


NATARSHA BELLING: We've certainly heard about the problems this week. Now it's time for solutions.

JAMES MATHISON: So, after the show yesterday, Tarsh and I put some of your ideas to the Federal Government Spokesperson for Childcare, Sussan Ley. Good morning Sussan.

SUSSAN LEY: Good morning.

JAMES MATHISON: Thanks for being with us. By far the biggest issue we're hearing about childcare is the skyrocketing cost of it. Why has it almost doubled in the past seven years and how can Governments make this cheaper?

SUSSAN LEY: Well James, it actually went up fifty per cent under Labor. One of the reasons was a new quality framework. We accept that; we approve of that. But my goodness, it's been accompanied by a truckload of red tape, so I'm working already with the States and Territories to try to wind that red tape back, because it's adding, for a typical childcare centre - and we've just had a report tell us this - about a hundred-forty thousand dollars a year. So that's not adding to quality of care; that's not educators teaching and playing with children. That's somebody locked away in an office doing something to satisfy regulators. We need to keep that down.

NATARSHA BELLING: Sussan I understand now the Productivity Commission of course, is looking into all of this. There's a lot of talk about it but families are very, very frustrated that there is a lack of action on this. Will the Federal Government put more money into this crisis affecting so many Australian families?

SUSSAN LEY: Tarsh, it's not about more money; it's about doing better with the money that we have. In the current circumstances we're not going to be able to find significant additional dollars, but there is a huge investment by Government in the childcare benefit and the childcare rebate and once our Productivity Commission reports in October this year, we will have new legislation to take to the Parliament in early 2015 and families will see change. Because the policies that we have today don't work. They don't work for shift workers; they don't work for the twenty-four-seven economy in which we all live and they don't work in terms of cost, because it's just too expensive for so many families. They can't afford to go back to work; can't afford to stay at home.

NATARSHA BELLING: What change will we see Sussan? What are some of the real solutions you want to achieve, I guess?

SUSSAN LEY: Look, we have to solve the problem of - as I said - out of hours care and we've included in home care as a specific term of reference. That's something that I know the PC is very interested in and I know that our Labor opponents come up with the tired old rhetoric of the class war, but we should have a mature discussion about this. Instead of loading two small children into the car and rushing off in the morning and doing a double drop-off and then rushing home again, let's look at it from the point of view of the families' happiness of the children's learning, education and also security. Let's look at options to have in home care. That's one place I know the Productivity Commission is investigating, but there's many others. What we need to remember is that if childcare is unaffordable for families, they will go to unregulated care, to backyard care, to informal arrangements, which may be fine - and of course, that's their choice, but may not be that good either.

JAMES MATHISON: You've spoken a little bit about the fact that the Government isn't willing to commit more money to this. You don't think it's the answer and by actually cutting red tape, you'll free up some funds. Does that also allow you to free up spaces, because what we're hearing from parents all across the country is there just are not enough childcare spots?

SUSSAN LEY: It's very patchy in some places in Australia and I've been all around the country when I was the Opposition spokesperson as well as the Minister. There's lots of spaces, and in some parts, particularly of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, it's really hard to get a place. So if it's a good sector to be in, if it's a good investment to make, then we will find people building the bricks and mortar, offering the places and we'll find experienced high quality people to run our childcare centres. That's what we want.

NATARSHA BELLING: Sussan, thanks so much for your time this morning.

SUSSAN LEY: Thank you.

- ENDS -

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