Joy Burch was today forced to admit that the cost of childcare will increase by five times her original estimate under Labor’s childcare reforms, according to ACT Shadow Family and Community Services Minister, Vicki Dunne.
“Joy Burch has said previously that the new standards will mean ‘no more’ cost to Canberra families than the cost of a coffee per week,” Mrs Dunne said today.
“But today, she relied on information from a private sector childcare provider that the cost would increase by between $1 and $3 per child per day.
“This is a fivefold increase of her original claim and means many Canberra families with two children in day care will be stung with at least another $30 hit to their wallets.
This prompted an unusual response from Joy Burch’s office:
A media release issued today by Mrs Dunne misrepresents what Ms Burch said in question time.
In question time today, in relation to childcare costs, Joy Burch referenced a News Ltd story to reject claims by the Opposition that childcare costs will increase by $60 a week per child. The story quotes one of Australia’s leading childcare providers, Goodstart Early Learning, which says costs to parents will rise by as little as $1 a day (and up to $3 a day) under national childcare reforms.
Ms Burch quoted Goodstart national chief executive Julia Davison, who rejected suggestions that parents could be forced to withdraw their children from quality centres and instead rely on unregulated backyard care. “Our view is that it’s a good investment,” Ms Davidson said. “Clearly a lot of families are recognising the importance of early learning and in our centres it’s not a huge fee increase.”
The $1-3 figure was a national estimate from Ms Davidson for Goodstart’s 650 centres across the country, and Ms Burch cited this as an example of what the sector is saying. Ms Davidson’s estimate was not specific to the ACT, nor did Ms Burch suggest it was.
The only modelling that has looked at the impact of the reforms by jurisdiction is the modelling undertaken by Access Economics, which was validated this year. This showed the increase in 2012 in the ACT as a result of the reforms to be 55 cents per day. The ACT Government stands by Access Economics’ modelling as more indicative of the ACT situation.
At the end of the day it’s hard to see how a requirement for more staff with better qualifications cannot lead to higher prices.
More fundamentally than that though one has to wonder why the state is responsible for providing child care from ages 5-18, but not for the first five years?