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Maharey can’t count

Maharey can’t count

National Party Education spokesman Bill English says either Steve Maharey’s early childhood policy will cost far more than he is claiming or it will apply to only a handful of children.

On radio this morning, Mr Maharey said Labour’s policy would benefit families with children eligible for the scheme by $4,680.

But Mr English says if Labour’s policy was worth that much money for each child then, based on their $56 million budget, less than 12,000 children would benefit.

“Labour’s policy would assist less than 12,000 of 280,000 under-fives, 180,000 of whom are in formal early childhood education.

“Under Labour’s policy, either these 180,000 children will receive a measly $300 each or, if Mr Maharey is right, Labour’s policy will actually cost $800 million. It doesn’t cost $800 million, it costs $56 million.

“In fact, Labour’s childcare policy is a lottery. A few lucky parents could get some benefit but given Labour’s sad mismanagement of the education budget even that is unlikely,” says Mr English.

National’s policy:

• Caters for all under-five-year-olds. Labour’s policy applies to just three-and four-year-olds. There are 170,000 children under the age of three in New Zealand, 70,000 of whom are currently enrolled in formal early childhood education; only National’s policy will benefit them.

• Covers all forms of care so parents can make choices about how their child is cared for, rather than sending their child to the type of centre that Labour has picked for them. More than 45,000 children are enrolled in 1,000 privately owned childcare centres. Only National's policy will benefit them.

• Costs an estimated $160 million a year in direct rebates to parents, whereas Labour's policy is a guess of $56 million cost to government as a subsidy to some centres.

• Comes into effect on 1 April 2006; Labour's comes into effect in 2007.

• Will maintain the increases in sessional grants and childcare subsidies announced in Budget 2005.


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