GRANT GOLDMAN: In a first, time-poor parents can have their say on the nation's first major review of childcare since the 1990s without having to make a full length submission. Yeah, look, you do feel a bit left out, don't you? Especially if you lead a busy life and usually it's mum and dad that lead busy lives these days.
Well, the Assistant Minister for Education, Sussan Ley, says the Productivity Commission enquiry into childcare and early childhood learning - it incorporated the option for people to leave a brief comment via a simple online form on their website. It's the first time a PC inquiry has offered this type of opportunity apparently. We do have Sussan Ley on the line. Good morning, Sussan.
SUSSAN LEY: Good morning, Grant.
GRANT GOLDMAN: Good morning. This is a great innovation and I think you've recognised the problem.
SUSSAN LEY: It is. The Productivity Commission is conducting, as you say, a big inquiry and is inviting submissions and people clearly would think, I'd love to do that, but I'm too busy. So what we're suggesting is that you send a brief comment if you go onto the website. It's really easy. You just follow a couple of links and it's just like sending an email. So you just put your thoughts down. You can do it on the train or the bus to work, or just in ten minutes while you're having a cup of coffee. And 350 of this sort of comment have been received already.
GRANT GOLDMAN: It's interesting, there are 729,000-odd families who use childcare in Australia. That's more than I thought.
SUSSAN LEY: There are, and the number is going up quite rapidly. And the government commitment to helping parents return to the workforce by way of paying them childcare benefit and rebates is also escalating because we do want to continue to make a significant investment in families. But the cost of childcare is getting out of reach.
GRANT GOLDMAN: In fact, that's what I'm writing right now. I have a four year old in childcare - long day care - and I'm just requesting that you actually pay it for me [Laughter] because, and there's the problem, it can get very expensive.
SUSSAN LEY: And it's stopped some parents going back to work. And particularly women, we want their contribution to the nation's economy. We want them in the jobs they want, doing the hours they want, in a time that suits them and the work-family balance.
GRANT GOLDMAN: Yeah, it makes sense. Well, we'll direct everybody to that. Hope it works out well. Thank you for your time this morning.
SUSSAN LEY: Please do. Thank you.
GRANT GOLDMAN: Bye-bye now. The Honourable Sussan Ley MP.