November 27, 2008
The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has today spoken in Federal Parliament about the need to support ABC childcare families and staff – urging the Government to intervene to ensure childcare places remain available in Gippsland towns.
The receiver has today listed which ABC Learning Centres are not viable and most in danger of closing. In Gippsland, there are three centres at Sale, one in Lakes Entrance, one in Maffra and one in Morwell which are listed as being ‘subject to further operational review’.
Mr Chester told Federal Parliament this morning his thoughts were with the many loyal staff who are concerned about how they are going to pay their own bills if the worst happens and the centres are closed.
“I have already written to the Minister and sought some assurances on behalf of staff in Gippsland in relation to their entitlements,” Mr Chester said.
“Now I seek the Minister’s support for towns in my electorate that may lose their only childcare centres in 2009 without any opportunity for replacement services to be developed.”
Mr Chester said he was reassured by the words of the Minister and the receiver that the list on the website didn’t mean these centres would necessarily close.
“I understand that we can expect a further announcement within a week,” Mr Chester said.
“I don’t believe it is the government’s job to continually bail out a failed business but there is an obligation to provide an essential service where a market-based model has failed.
“Gippslanders aren’t interested in petty political point scoring and the blame game when it comes to the provision of an essential community services such as childcare.
“Gippslanders want some assurances from this government that it will act to ensure that childcare services continue to be made available in regional communities across Gippsland.
“The government says it has a taskforce in place which is working with the receiver – it sounds promising – but Gippsland families want a guarantee that there will be somewhere for their children to be safely cared for in 2009.
“I urge the Minister to remember the small country towns that are caught up in this issue and if there are no alternative service providers, the government must work with local communities to guarantee services in the future.”