Government Underspend Shows Contempt for ECE
At a time when the ECE sector is crying out for a funding increase after a decade of cuts; and support in the face of a critical shortage in ECE teachers, Treasury reports an underspend of over $75 million in funding tagged for the sector.
Has the Minister given any thought to the incompetence of his Ministry for failing to spend allocated Budget funding? Why shouldn’t every childcare service in the country immediately invoice the Ministry for $15k? What is the Minister’s explanation to the many teacher-led ECE services struggling in the face of the critical ECE Teacher shortage of why this significant underspend wasn’t re-directed toward relieving the pressures of that shortage?
Is the Minister aware of the recent rise in complaints to the Ministry of Education about ECE services and how can he not draw the conclusion that this must be driven by the extreme funding pressures on services and the ECE teacher shortage? And with $75 million in his back pocket underspent from last year’s Budget, why he has so far refused to help?
How can the Minister explain to parents facing an increase in childcare fees that withholding $75 million in his back pocket is a good idea? How can he explain to the many smaller childcare services that struggle day in and day out in the face of a chronic ECE teacher shortage that they don’t matter and it’s OK if they are forced to close?
Does he have confidence in his Ministry of Education that they can explain away how they underspent in an area under critical pressure to survive?
Or is this the plan all along?
I’m tempted to call on all 2,600 centres to each send the Minister an invoice for their share of the $75 million – or $28,846 to be precise!
We have written to the Minister today to ask these questions and will report back to you with the answer.