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Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Page: 654

Early Years Quality Fund


Ms RYAN (LalorOpposition Whip) (15:02): My question is to the Assistant Minister for Education. I refer the minister to her election policy, which I have here, handy, which states:

If elected, the Coalition will honour funds contracted from the EYQF …

Can the minister confirm that no Early Years Quality Fund contracts will be cut?


Ms LEY (FarrerAssistant Minister for Education) (15:02): I am pleased to receive a question from the member for Lalor. What I can say is that following the disturbing evidence around the creation, allocation and distribution of the Early Years Quality Fund, when I was sworn in as minister I commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct a report. That report has recently—

Opposition members interjecting

Ms LEY: I am not sure, Madam Speaker, whether members opposite actually want to hear the update on the Early Years Quality Fund—maybe they do not.

The report has been received, I am in the process of digesting its contents and I will have something to say about the future of the Early Years Quality Fund. But there is something I want to add, because my understanding is that the member for Lalor is a teacher and therefore she should be concerned, as she appears to be, about the wages of teachers. But the one thing that stood out—and I do not need PricewaterhouseCoopers to tell me this—is that the fund of which she speaks could only cover 30 per cent of the workforce in the long day care sector, which is a tiny proportion of the overall workforce.

So, Madam Speaker, if you were at the community preschool at Moonee Ponds you could never have received an allocation from the Early Years Quality Fund. If you worked in out-of-school-hours care, or if you worked in occasional care or if you worked as an early childhood teacher in something other than long day care you could never have received an allocation from the Early Years Quality Fund. I wonder why not. Because union members do not appear in those sectors of the childcare workforce.

So what this Labor Party did in government was provide a small amount of money in a fund for 30 per cent of a subset of the workforce for just two years. Do you know what the really interesting thing is about the opposition minister who presided over this flawed public policy, Madam Speaker? When this fund opened for business, do you know how long it took? I have mentioned the small quantum—it was exhausted in 12 hours. Just 12 hours! Did the then minister deign to let the sector know that there was no point in putting in their applications? No, because every single application came with lodgements of your EBA with the Fair Work Commission and more union members in your workplace. So I make no apologies for commissioning this report to clean up Labor's mess.