No childcare backdown

WA LABOR is still butting heads with the Barnett government following a decision to pull support from a handful of childcare centres around the State.

Of the 310 not-for-profit community childcare centres in WA, 33 operate from state-managed properties with rent and maintenance assistance, but this is set to cease from June 2018.

Equal playing field

The Liberal party reckons this will provide an equal playing field across all child care services, but Labor has described it as mean-spirited.

Amid fears it would force child care centres to close up or increase fees, parents and staff came to state parliament demanding the decision be reversed.

But treasurer Mike Nahan stuck to his guns, saying the government does not anticipate any centres will close because other tenure options are available (like vesting the property in the local government).

Dr Nahan also noted a 43 percent increase in WA childcare places since 2008 and claimed the state government began managing the land in the 1980’s, when there was greater need for child care.

“The state government maintains its commitment to ensuring accessible and affordable childcare and will support the continued delivery of child care services through these facilities,” Dr Nahan said.

Shadow community services minister Simone McGurk argued there was still a childcare shortage, and said the centres were being axed because of poor state finances.

She also connected unaffordable childcare with fewer working mums and the gender pay-gap, pointing to a 2015 report called ‘filling the pool’ which said WA had the highest pay-gap of any state (25 per cent).

“The big waiting lists at most of these centres show that Dr Nahan was way off the mark,” Ms McGurk said.

“The funding needed to keep the centres open is small compared to the bill taxpayers are having to foot for the Liberals’ waste and mismanagement.”

“There’s still a demand for it, and if these centres are threatened with closure it’s going to have a knock-on effect [for parents].”

by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM

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