11 April 2014
At a meeting of Education Ministers in Canberra today, the federal Government has refused to commit to funding preschool and kindergarten services beyond this year.
This is despite states and territories - Labor and Liberal alike - warning the Abbott Government about the severe impacts such cuts would have.
"For the Abbott Government to even consider ripping money out of preschools at the same time finding money for $75,000 parental leave payments to millionaires demonstrates completely twisted priorities," Shadow Education Minister, Kate Ellis, said.
"Every family stands to lose," Kate Ellis, said.
"If these cuts go ahead, services will close, hours will be cut and fees will rise."
The Victorian and South Australian Governments have already warned that families would lose about a day of preschool every week.
"Many families would also be left scrambling to find replacement child care places - putting even more pressure on waiting lists and fees," Kate Ellis said.
Before the election, Tony Abbott promised:
TONY ABBOTT: There will be no cuts to health, no cuts to education.(5 September 2013)
"Tony Abbott seems intent on yet again breaking his promise not to cut education," Kate Ellis said.
The Assistant Education Minister, Sussan Ley, continues to argue that preschool and kindergarten are not the Federal Government's responsibility.
"It's ridiculous to suggest the Federal Government should fund early childhood education and care, and for schools, but shirk responsibility for the year of preschool that sits in between," Kate Ellis said.
In 2008, Labor introduced Universal Access funding for preschool and kindergarten services 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.
A petition against these cuts can be signed at: http://www.alp.org.au/handsoffkindy
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.