Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Iemma fails NSW pre-school children

The Iemma Labor Government is failing children in NSW by continuing to spend the least amount on pre-schools in Australia.

Responding to media report today, Families and Community Services Minister Mal Brough said plans by NSW to spend $85 million over four years on pre-schools was a "drop in the ocean".

"NSW currently spends about $100 per child on pre-school services compared to a national average of $175," Mr Brough said.

"Despite the extra money NSW has promised, this will only lift spending to $128 per child by 2009-10 compared to an estimated Australian average of $184.

"The NSW Government is continuing to massively under-fund pre-schools by spending only $21 million a year, ignoring a report by Professor Tony Vinson which indicated the underspend was in the order of $90 million per year."

Mr Brough said the result of the massive underspend is that NSW has the lowest pre-school enrolment rates of four years olds in Australia which resulted in childcare places being taken up by children who would otherwise be in pre school.

"Even if all the 10,500 places NSW promises to create went to four year olds, their enrolment rate would only increase from 59 per cent in 2003-04 to 70 per cent in 2009-10," Mr Brough said.

"This is still substantially lower than other states which have enrolment rates for four year olds ranging from 81 per cent in NT to 100 per cent in Tasmania."

Mr Brough said this was simply not good enough from NSW Labor.

"Federal Labor is asking taxpayers to subsidise the creation of child care centres in NSW when that State is ignoring its responsibilities and not adequately providing pre-school for which it is responsible," Mr Brough said.