Wednesday, 25 August 2021
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Let’s go live now to Amanda Rishworth, she is the Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education. Amanda, good to see you, thanks for your time this morning. I just want to start off with the child care sector, this package $50 million a week for 5,000 providers. Will it save them all?
AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: Well firstly, obviously as a result of the delay of the government, we’ve already seen educators lose their jobs, we’ve already seen families have to fork out for care they’re not receiving, and providers take a big hit. So the delay has already cost many, many places, many families, many educators. This package though is desperately welcomed, because the sector was quite frankly in disarray. We will be monitoring over coming weeks about whether or not this will save educators jobs, whether this will save particularly smaller centres, small businesses that are operating out there, small not for profit centres providing excellent care. We’re still going to monitor and see if it’s able to deliver. There are still some unanswered questions about how centres keep enrolments of children in centres, there is some technical issues around that. So we’ll keep listening to the sector, listening to parents and listening to educators. Why the government delayed I have no idea, but we certainly welcome this belated announcement.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, but what’s your hunch when it comes to saving the jobs?
RISHWORTH: Well, my hunch is this will go some way to saving jobs, some way to ensuring that educators are kept on. But as these lockdowns go longer, we know that there will be some educators that will leave the sector, some that there won’t be hours for, particularly those casual educators. And that’s going to put, I think, the child care sector, but also our recovery in jeopardy. I think we’ll see centres unable to necessarily be fully functioning at the end of this lockdown, which will hamper the efforts to get parents back to work.
STEFANOVIC: So this fuels the argument to end lockdowns, do you agree?
RISHWORTH: Everyone wants to end lockdowns, there is no doubt that parents, people, businesses, everyone wants to see the end of lockdowns. And the question is, how do we do that in a safe way to get the country functioning again? So I don’t think you’ll find anyone that says “yes, we love a lockdown”. It is very, very disruptive to the economy. The question for the Prime Minister is how do we do that in a safe way? And how do we make sure that the plan is executed properly? And I think a lot of Australians and a lot of people would be a little nervous, this Prime Minister doesn’t have a very good track record at executing plans. He launches the plan and then changes it. So look, I want to get out of lockdowns, but we need a plan that’s executed properly so that we can do it safely.
STEFANOVIC: So you want to see the end of them at 80 per cent vaccination targets?
RISHWORTH: We have said we support the plan, Labor said we support the plan. But in that plan, there is a lot of detail along with that 80 per cent that we need answers from the Prime Minister. At 80 per cent, the plan talks about proper isolation, testing, quarantine, tracing, and an optimal process for that. So the question for the Prime Minister is how is he going to put that in place to ensure that we can exit? The plan still talks about restrictions – what are those restrictions? The Prime Minister needs to be honest, he can’t keep playing politics with this. He needs to be honest and open with the Australian people. And then there’s the question about children, the 12 to 15 year olds, when they become eligible. The Prime Minister said that they’re not going to be included in this plan that he’s outlined. So he needs to provide answers about how he keeps those children safe. So there’s a lot of questions, and rather than just sort of playing politics with this, which is what I think the Prime Minister is doing, he needs to sit down, be straight, honest, and lay out how he’s going to execute this plan.
STEFANOVIC: Amanda Rishworth, appreciate your time. We’ll talk to you soon.