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Mallard slams "Australian" childcare

Tue, 13 July 2004

Mallard slams "Australian" childcare

On Breakfast TV this morning the Minister of Education admitted labelling privately-owned early childhood centres as "Kentucky Fried Childcare". However he unconvincingly said that he was talking about poor quality privately owned Australian centres.

"It is very difficult to accept that to be the case when the discussion at the time was about his government funding quality New Zealand early childhood education, and Australia was not even mentioned in the debate," said Sue Thorne, Chief Executive of the Early Childhood Council.

The record from the Hansard March 20 2003 states:

Phil Heatley: Why does [the minister] not take the advice of his colleague John Tamihere, who says that status policies are wrong and foolish and, instead, fund early childhood education on the basis of quality, not on who owns the centre? Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Because this Government cares about quality of service, not of lining the pockets of individuals who want to take advantage of "Kentucky Fried Childcare".

This Minister is seriously out of favour with the Prime Minister and many of his Cabinet colleagues for his anti-business and anti-parental choice stance on early childhood education. He has yet to align his early childhood education policy with his Government's priorities for families.

He is now desperately trying to claw back support for his policy to exclude the 45,000 children attending privately owned services from 20 hours free early childhood education.

"Quite simply 60% of all the children attending all-day services will miss out on 20 hours free early childhood education because Trevor Mallard doesn't approve of the choice their parents have made for them," said Mrs Thorne.

"That's 45,000 children, 90,000 voting parents, 6000 voting staff working in that sector, no wonder some Labour MPs are getting twitchy" said Mrs Thorne.


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