darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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August 26, 2011

The Gillard Government is under more pressure to reinstate ‘Take A Break’ occasional childcare funding after The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester lodged a petition signed by 1100 Gippslanders in Federal Parliament today.

Funding cuts made by the Gillard Government in the 2010/11 Budget have been seriously impacting on families and staff in some Gippsland communities where the only childcare services offered are funded through the ‘Take A Break’ program.

When the Gillard Government cut funding for the ‘Take A Break’ program the Victorian Government stepped in and guaranteed its future until the end of 2011.

The Gillard Government has so far ignored calls to restore its 70 per cent share of the funding, despite the Victorian Government confirming its 30 per cent commitment.

Mr Chester told Federal Parliament families from Gormandale, Heyfield, Paynesville, Swifts Creek, Cann River and Mallacoota who use occasional childcare services have been contacting his office seriously concerned that services in their communities would cease from December 31 this year.

“Under this government’s decision to take $12.6 million away from the Take a Break program, we are left with many towns…that face the prospect of having no occasional childcare service whatsoever after December this year,” Mr Chester told Parliament.

“At least 142 childcare workers stand to lose their jobs and over 220 community organisations which received government funding in the past would not be able to offer occasional childcare services in the future.

“It should not be so hard for regional communities to get a fair go out of this government. If the government is not prepared to listen to me perhaps they will listen to these 1,000 Gippslanders who are basically saying they want a fair go.”

Mr Chester said the Take a Break program was critically important to Gippsland families and the failure to reinstate the funding is a sign of how out of touch the Gillard Government is with regional families.

“It stuns me, quite frankly, to have a government which is prepared to spend more than $12 million on climate change advertising propaganda but cannot find $12 million to help the children in regional communities receive some occasional childcare,” Mr Chester said.

“It is a staggering decision from the government. It just shows how out of touch some of the Labor members in this place are.”

Mr Chester also criticised the actions of State Labor MP’s who have demanded that the Victorian Coalition Government fully fund the program.

“In Victoria we are seeing Victorian State MPs taking the opportunity to harangue their Victorian Coalition Government and demand that they provide the services in the future,” Mr Chester said.

“The Victorian Government has been prepared to stump up their 30 per cent of funding. What they are demanding though is that the Federal Government restore the 70 per cent that they used to provide.

“I think it is hypocritical of State Labor MPs to be haranguing the State Government in Victoria and then not also coming to the Commonwealth Minister and demanding that she reinstate that funding.”

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