Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Labor plays catch-up on playgroups

┬áLabor have again resorted to imitating the Coalition Government’s policies with an announcement today on playgroups that mirrors the commitment made by the Government last December, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony said.

“The Australian Government has increased support to playgroups in since coming to office in recognition of the benefits that children and their parents or carers can derive from participating in a playgroup.

“Just last December the Australian Government contributed an extra $14.9 million over 5 years to expand playgroup services nationally.

“This included assistance to the playgroup associations to establish and support extra mainstream playgroups. The commitment also included targetted playgroups to help disadvantaged families and children with special needs.

“This support built on the $1.8 million playgroup associations receive annually from the Australian Government to support around 8,100 playgroups. More than 108,000 families participated in playgroup programs in 2002 – 2003.

“Labor’s announcement today to establish a 1800 number is also reminiscent of our assistance to Playgroup Australia to establish their website www.playgroupaustralia.com.au The site contains general information about playgroups and their location.

“In addition to their tax exempt status, Playgroup Australia and its affiliated state associations were also recently granted deductible gift recipient status by the Australian Government.

“Predictably, Labor’s announcement completely ignores the needs of rural and regional families. There is no mention in their announcement of additional support for playgroups in the bush.

“There is also no recognition of the great work done by mobile playgroup services in remote areas. Labor leader Mark Latham needs to understand that not everyone in Australia lives in outer-metro areas like Western Sydney.

“It is the Australian Government that is providing record levels of assistance to Australian families. Our support for playgroups is just another way we have supporting families in their choices to return to work or stay at home.

“Mark Latham has paraded around as the Messiah of early childhood. He has today again refused to outline a comprehensive early childhood plan and displayed that he is all rhetoric and no substance,” Mr Anthony said.