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Government must outline its 'contingency plans' for ABC Learning: Mirabella.

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Mrs Sophie Mirabella MP Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education, Childcare, Women and Youth

Sophie Mirabella MP, the Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Childcare, has called on the Rudd Government to announce its contingency plans for ABC Learning Centres.

“The Minister for Education, Julia Gillard said today that she is ‘working on contingency plans’ should ABC Learning’s operations collapse, but she has refused to outline what these contingency plans are,” Mrs Mirabella said.

“This is simply not good enough for the parents of the more than 100,000 children cared for by ABC Learning Centres. These families require certainty and full disclosure of the Government’s intentions for the company in the event that the company collapses.”

“Should ABC Learning falter, the long day care industry in Australia will fall into absolute chaos. The care of more than 100,000 children will be jeopardised and thousands of parents across the country will be forced to find alternative childcare arrangements,” Mrs Mirabella said.

“When you have one major company that controls up to a third of the long-day care market, and the Government is providing more than $1 million a day to that company via taxpayer-funded subsidies, it is crucial that there be a strong oversight of the company in these circumstances.”

“I am not suggesting that the Government interfere in the current ASIC investigation nor comment on the financial structure of the ABC Learning.Å¡ But the Government needs to come clean and outline its intentions for the company, instead of making meaningless statements that they are ‘working on contingency plans’.”

“When one considers that the company has already flagged that it would have to declare a pre-tax loss of $437 million and its share price has fallen from a high of $8.80 in late 2006 to just 57 cents at the company’s trading halt, the Government needs to outline its plans for ABC Learning and give more attention than the lip service it is currently paying towards this serious, mounting emergency,” Mrs Mirabella concluded.