While it is all too easy for critics of subsidised childcare to dismiss the service as middle class welfare, the fact is that in the 21st century it is a necessary part of life.
That point was spelt out loud and clear in a report released by the Productivity Commission in 2014 which stated "Early Childhood Education and Care [ECEC] services play a vital role in the development of Australian children".
The same report cited the role of such services in facilitating workplace participation by parents, notably mothers, and said it would be possible to build on this even further with some relatively straightforward reforms.
A follow-up study, the results of which were released on Friday, closely scrutinised the operation of childcare services across the country against a wide range of metrics including cost, the level of qualifications held by childcare centre staff, national quality standards and hospital attendances by children in childcare from childcare centres.
The ACT, despite being the richest of all jurisdictions on a per capita and per household basis, fared worse than almost every other state and territory.
Despite the fact fees are not directly pegged to income with all families, regardless of what they make, entitled to claim a 50 per cent rebate, Canberrans were charged almost 25 per cent above the national weekly childcare cost. This came to $493 a week compared to $400 a week.
While some, including the director of the ACT Council of Social Services, Susan Helyar, have blamed the high fees on the number of high earning, dual income families in the capital, the causal link is not immediately obvious under the laws of supply and demand.
Economic orthodoxy suggests strong demand usually encourages additional supply with the result costs are kept to a dull roar.
This brings us to the interesting point that Canberrans pay significantly more for what is, according to the Productivity Commission's latest report, arguably a lesser service.
In the normal scheme of things, such as at a private school or a university, one would expect the higher the fees, the better qualified the staff would be.
Not so in this instance. According to the report just over half of the "primary contact staff" working in ACT childcare centres were at Certificate III level or above.
Across the border in NSW, where the cost to families averaged $425 a week or $3536 a year less than here, the figure was much closer to the national average of 74 per cent.
Victoria, the state with the most qualified staff [80 per cent at Certificate III or above], cost families on average $73 a week or $3976 a year less than the ACT.
Canberra also fared particularly badly when it came to meeting the National Quality Standard for childcare.
Less than half of Canberra's centres, or just 49.6 per cent, met the standard compared to a national average of 66.5 per cent.
Given we live in a city which is happy to beat its own drum about positive points of difference on lifestyle options, the provision of services and the quality of choice within its borders, these revelations will likely act as barbecue stoppers this weekend.
Parents, already keenly aware of the large chunks of change being consumed every month by the cost of using childcare to allow both to participate in the workforce, will be legitimately asking why they pay more for what is demonstrably a lesser service.
Clearly something has gone badly wrong when services across the border in Queanbeyan, Yass and elsewhere are able to outperform what is available here and charge less.
Is it is a case of a lack of expertise on the part of those operating the services or a lack of will by those within the ACT government charged with administering the delivery of these services?
Perhaps this is a question the ACT Education Minister should be asking his staff to find the answer to.
While childcare issue is significant across the nation it has a special resonance here because of the high concentration of families in which both partners are committed to having challenging, and rewarding, careers.
To deny some of this city's best and brightest women access to the workforce because childcare is beyond their reach would be ridiculous.