In a classic “Yes, Minister” moment, the Minister for Human Services confirmed that the Abbott Government would not be keeping an election commitment because it needed to conduct a trial before it was ready to roll out its trial.
Giving evidence to the Senate Education and Employment Committee during Budget Estimates hearings, Senator Marise Payne tried to explain why the Government was not providing its early learning languages trial to 400,000 preschool students, as promised in the Coalition election policy document:
In terms of the numbers, Senator Lines, the background in relation to that is based on Ms Ley’s extensive work in the area over a long period of time of course as both the Shadow Minister and now as the Minister but the points that both Ms Paul and Ms Wilson make in relation to using the evidence from the trial to assist the Government in determining the most cost effective way for the Government to do this and to roll out to the largest number of preschool children is the purpose of the trial.
[SENATOR PAYNE – SENATE ESTIMATES – 22 OCTOBER 2014]
The Coalition’s Policy for Schools stated:
An estimated 400,000 pre-school children would benefit as part of the online language learning trials for one year.
[PAGE 14, REAL SOLUTIONS: THE COALITION’S POLICY FOR SCHOOLS]
The Department of Education confirmed that the trial will run for one year in 2015 and around 40 preschools would be involved, even though over 1,118 preschools had applied to be part of the trial.
The ‘pre-trial’ of the trial will also exhaust the full $10 million of funding allocated to the full one year trial.
When questioned by Labor Senator Sue Lines, the Government refused to confirm that it would keep its commitment to include 400,000 students in the trial.
Despite no Senator from the Greens asking any questions on child care or attending child care estimates, under repeated Labor questioning the Government were unable to outline if or when they intended to meet their clear election commitment or whether this would be yet another broken promise from the Abbott Government who have already cut over a billion dollars from early childhood programs.
THURSDAY, 23 OCTOBER 2014