Doorstop interview – early education and care

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: When the Government announced “free child care” parents expected just that, free child care. Unfortunately what we’re learning now is they didn’t fund it properly, they didn’t fund it so every essential worker can actually get access to child care. What they did was make a good headline, announce it, but not fund it and the outcomes are really difficult. They are really difficult for centres that are not able to make ends meet, they are cutting back hours and turning children away, they’re not able to remain viable. And for families, there are many families out there that are being turned away from child care. In fact for some families it is not COVID-19, it’s not that there’s no jobs in the economy – the reason they are not able to go back to work is they cannot find a child care place.

It is time that this Government actually does what it promised and that is fund child care for all essential workers, all those Australians, all those families that need support. Otherwise this has just been a hollow headline by this Prime Minister. So I am urging the Minister to sit down, listen to early educators, listen to families, not brush aside their concerns. He needs to fix this system so we don’t have access to child care as the handbrake on our economic recovery.

JOURNALIST: What would you suggest as a viable solution or alternative to what we currently have?

RISHWORTH: It is the Government that announced that every worker would be able to get free child care, but they didn’t actually fund it. So what they need to do is sit down with centres, sit down with families and actually work out what it costs to do and enact this promise the Government made. Without enacting and funding this properly then it is a broken promise by this Government, a broken promise to families right around Australia. But more than a broken promise, it could well be a handbrake on the economy as we all should be working towards economic recovery. So this is a very serious issue that the Minister must address urgently.

JOURNALIST: So there’s a few problems with child care, there’s also the problems Labor has had with Jobkeeper, do you think this is a result of things moving by so quickly due to trying to respond to COVID-19?

RISHWORTH: There is no doubt when it came to child care and indeed wage subsidies that it was important the Government moved quickly. Indeed Labor had been urging the Government, whether it was wage subsidies or child care, to act quickly.

For some instances we think it probably was an accident and the Government should recognise their mistake and deal with it, for others there was design elements in that. I look at those workers at Dnata being excluded from Jobkeeper, the Treasurer could fix this with a stroke of a pen, he changed it with the stroke of a pen, he could fix it with the stroke of a pen. So whether it’s by design or by accident, the Government has a responsibility to the Australian people to admit their mistakes and fix it.

ENDS

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