House debates

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Matters of Public Importance

Early Childhood Education: Preschool Funding

3:44 pm

Photo of Michelle LandryMichelle Landry (Capricornia, National Party, Assistant Minister for Children and Families) Share this | Hansard source

Here we go again: another day, another fake news moment from those opposite. The fact is that, when it comes to funding, those opposite speak with forked tongues. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about school funding, hospital funding, bulk-billing rates or, indeed, preschool funding—those opposite simply don't have a leg to stand on.

The truth is: preschool funding is higher than ever and only going one way. The current deal is delivering more money to my electorate of Capricornia and continues to allow our hardworking early childhood teachers to deliver the start in life our children need. Our preschools do a wonderful job, especially those in our rural communities, where they act not just as an education shop but as a community hub for parents, grandparents, children and teachers alike. Whether it is kindergarten, preschool, child care or primary school, the education our children get in these foundational years is vital to unlocking opportunities later in life. The funding of these services is vitally important.

The scaremongering of those opposite really knows no bounds. They will scare the elderly by lying about the government potentially selling Medicare. The truth is: we haven't and we won't. They will scare families and teachers by lying about imaginary cuts to school funding. The truth is: funding is higher than ever and continues to increase. They will scare young parents by lying about funding for early childhood education. The government simply has not cut preschool funding. The coalition government will provide more than $440 million to states and territories for preschool in 2019 under the National Partnership on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education. The extension of the national partnership will ensure almost 350,000 Australian children will have access to 15 hours of quality education each week or 600 hours in the year before school. Every state and territory is now signed up to the extension of the national partnership, which will continue to deliver universal access to preschool throughout 2019. We can only deliver this funding because the Australian economy is strong, and Australians know who to trust when it comes to that.

Those opposite may not understand what I've said so I will repeat it: we are increasing funding for services, and we can do so because the economy is strong and getting stronger. I know there'll be a conflicting idea from those opposite, because their version of events is to slap taxes on the back of business and families, crippling the economy and costing jobs. We are building a strong economy, and part of that is because we are not afraid to stand in this place and say a certain four-letter word, and that four-letter word is 'coal'. We know those opposite are conflicted on coal. While their union masters might be tapping on the shoulders of Queensland MPs and candidates to support the biggest employer in Central Queensland, they are being squeezed from the top, with ALP hierarchy telling them not to tell the world what they actually think. Who do we believe? What does Labor really think about coal? Do we believe the opposition leader—who must have nearly worn himself out hopping from one leg to another, saying one thing in Central Queensland and another in his home town, the almond-latte capital of Australia, Melbourne—or do we believe the working-class union that pulls the strings and pays the bills? For the record, I, for one, support the CFMMEU's demands on Labor MPs, and I am only too happy to say: 'Yes, I support coal; yes, I support the Galilee Basin; and, yes, I support the Adani Carmichael mine.' I support these things because they mean good jobs for Central Queenslanders and they mean more royalties and taxes for Queensland and Australia.

When the economy is strong, we as a government can deliver more for Australians, so I encourage every member opposite who wants the government to spend more money on preschools, hospitals and the unemployment queues to join me in supporting and standing up for the coalmining industry—to be brave and proudly utter the words: 'I support coal.'


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