Thursday, October 28, 2010

ECE: Another broken promise?

During the 2008 election campaign, John Key promised to close the gap with Australia. In fact, he widened it. He promised he wouldn't raise GST. He raised it. He also promised not to cut 20 hours free ECE. You can guess what's coming next, right?

The 20 hours of free care children 3 and over receive in early childhood centres is under review, despite the Government's election promise that it would not cut or change the popular scheme.

Education Minister Anne Tolley established an independent taskforce this month to review the effectiveness of spending in the early childhood education sector and propose innovative ideas about learning.

Questioned this week in Parliament about whether funding for the 20-hours scheme would be exempt from the review, she replied: "No, but this Government promised to retain the subsidies and fee controls that make up 20 hours' early childhood services."

We all know how this goes. "Under review" today means cut tomorrow. And the result of that will be more kids pushed out of education, and more parents who can't afford to work. Such a move wouldn't just be dishonest - it would also be stupid. Early childhood education is one of the highest quality social investments we can make, improving education levels and employment prospects and reducing health costs, crime, and inequality. But National doesn't care about that; all it cares about is strip-mining government services to provide tax cuts for its rich cronies.

Meanwhile, Key also made another promise in the 2008 election campaign: not to sell state assets. He's already gone back on two core promises and looks to be about to on a third. So can we really trust him on the fourth?