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Government must reassure local families on ABC Learning.



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Federal Member for Wannon

Hamilton Office 190 Gray St, HAMILTON VIC 3300 Warrnambool Office 73 Kepler St WARRNAMBOOL VIC 3280 Freecall 1300 131 692 E David.Hawker.MP@aph.gov.au W www.davidhawker.com.au

Federal Member for Wannon

5 November 2008

GOVERNMENT MUST REASSURE LOCAL FAMILIES ON ABC LEARNING

Federal Member for Wannon, David Hawker, has called on the Rudd Government to move quickly to reassure local families who rely on ABC Learning, as the Board considers calling in administrators.

“Recent Reports that the Board of ABC Learning are considering calling in administrators will be very concerning for the many local families who rely on ABC for their childcare. The Government has taken a hands-off approach so far and essentially said they would wait for the company to collapse - now it appears that is about to happen,” Mr Hawker said.

“The time has come for Labor to be upfront with parents and let them know exactly what contingency plans are in place to ensure the Centres remain operational. Parents need that reassurance.”

Mr Hawker said the Government had been “eerily quiet” since ABC learning suspended trading on their shares in August.

“The Coalition has been consistently calling on the Government to let local Mums and Dads know what they intend to do about ABC Learning - but Labor refuses to respond,” he said.

“Around 25% of all long day care in Australia is conducted through ABC learning and the company receives 44% of its revenue from Federal Government subsidies. Clearly the Government has a strong responsibility to ensure the services offered through ABC Learning continue.

“Failure to ensure that ABC Learning Centres remain operational will be nothing short of a disaster for the Australian childcare industry - one that will have a huge impact on tens of thousands of Australian Mums and Dads.”

Mr Hawker also expressed concern at reports that ABC Learning has struggled to meet staffing requirements.

“Obviously the uncertainty about the future of ABC Learning is having an impact on the level of service being offered at some Centres around the country. They have apparently had to resort to calling in training staff, area managers and Centre directors to actually care for children. This is a concern and is clearly unsustainable in the long-term,” he said.

“The Rudd Government has a responsibility to outline exactly what it intends to do. If they wait until after administrators are called in we could have a situation where local families are left stranded if a financial decision is made to close some Centres.”

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Media contact: Jane Templeton (03) 5572 1100