Ley urged to visit a Canberra early childhood centre


Federal Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, has today called on the Abbott Government to explain why it is ripping money away from early childhood workers across the ACT.

Early this year, Labor introduced a $300 million Early Years Quality Fund to be used to increase wages in the sector, recognising that awfully low pay rates have been an impediment to early childhood quality and workforce retention.

The Abbott Government has said it may not honour provisional contracts signed by directors of long-day care centres to access the fund over two years. They include early childhood centres in north Canberra.

"If the Coalition Government is going to raid the pay rises of early childhood workers to cover a mining tax cut that will benefit Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer, their ministers needs to visit one of Canberra's centres and explain why billionaire miners need that money more than early childhood workers," said Dr Leigh.

"To justify a review of the Early Years Quality Fund, the Coalition claims the Fund was set up to boost union membership. It's nonsense. Early childhood centres need an enterprise agreement to tap into the Fund. There is no requirement that unions be involved."

“Stopping the fund could result in in many early childhood workers leaving because they will earn more elsewhere, even stacking shelves at the supermarket.”

"There is a great deal of uncertainty and frustration in the sector. Centres and parents want to urgently see that early childhood, under an Abbott Government, is a valued service that prepares children for school and lifelong learning.”

"I call on the new assistant minister for education and childcare, Sussan Ley, to join me in visiting an early childhood centre on Canberra’s northside. There, the talented early childhood workers can explain to her how the Early Years Quality Fund will directly improve the lives of Australian children," Dr Leigh said.

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