ABBOTT MUST FESS UP ON PRESCHOOL FUNDING PLANS

THURSDAY, 24 JULY 2014

With this week’s draft Productivity Commission Report on Child Care and Early Childhood Learning warning against cutting federal funding for kindergarten and preschool, Labor is calling on Tony Abbott to end the uncertainty gripping families and services, and come clean about whether federal funding will run out next year.

Funding for states and territories to ensure Australian children have access to 15 hours of preschool or kindergarten education in the year before school – called Universal Access – was not confirmed in the Federal Budget.

 

“Time has run out for Tony Abbott – he simply can’t keep stringing people along like this,” Shadow Minister for Early Childhood, Kate Ellis, said.

 

“This is shocking administration – services have no idea if they can take enrolments, they can’t plan their budgets, and parents' work commitments are up in the air.”

 

“If Tony Abbott is happy to dismiss the Productivity Commission’s calls for him to redirect money from his excessive Paid Parental Leave scheme, he should also be prepared to break his silence on this.”

 

The Victorian Shadow Minister for Children, Jenny Mikakos, said Budget uncertainty now meant kinder committees and staff were at crisis point in trying to plan for next year.

 

“Everyone recognises that the Federal Government should be investing in kinder: the Productivity Commission says so, educators say so, parents say so, everyone except the Liberals,” Jenny Mikakos said.

“Denis Napthine needs to stand up to his mate Tony Abbott and demand that he continue to fund this valuable program now, before children and families lose out.”

Kate Ellis and Jenny Mikakos also called on Liberal Premiers to put the interests of children’s education before political allegiances.


“Liberal Premiers like Denis Napthine need to stop backsliding and actually do something. If they can’t find their voice, the consequences are clear – services will close, fees will rise and children will miss out on the early education they deserve,” Kate Ellis said.

 

Australian studies show children who attended preschool or kindergarten go on to score significantly better in Year Three NAPLAN tests. This is also backed up by international research that shows Australian students with one year of pre-primary education achieve higher results in Year Four reading, maths and science.

 

In 2008, Labor introduced Universal Access funding to make sure that, over time, every Australian child would have access to 15 hours of quality education in the year before school. As a result, attendance at preschool for more than 15 hours a week has grown from just 12 per cent in 2008 to over 56 per cent in 2012.

 

“Tony Abbott looks set on returning to a really undesirable situation, where just 1 in 10 Australian children has access to 15 hours of preschool per week,” Kate Ellis said.

 

NOTE – Based on the budgeted federal expenditure on preschool and kindergarten services on for June-December 2014 (National Partnership for Universal Access to Early Childhood Education), states and territories stand to lose the following investment in early childhood education.

 

$million

NSW

Vic

Qld

WA

SA

Tas

ACT

NT

National

2015

152

113

98

50

32

10

7

6

470

2015 - 2018

608

565

392

200

128

40

28

24

1,880