EDITORIAL: Election a chance to move past six wasted years of poor policy

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison has visited Government House, around 12km from the office where I’m writing this, and officially started the 2019 Federal Election campaign.

The next few weeks will be a swirl of analysis, opinion, facts and fact-checking, spin and outright falsehoods. They’ll cover all the huge issues facing the nation – climate change, education, health, taxation.

At The Framework, we’ll be doing what we always do. Focusing on the services and professionals that work under the National Quality Framework.

We’ll be looking at what this election means for educators, children and families. We’ll be taking a deep look at the issues – and we won’t just be regurgitating press releases from campaigns desperate to tell their own story.

For individual voters, elections are always choices about multiple issues. We can’t tell any of our readers what to fill in on their ballot forms on May 18.

But if the National Quality Framework, early education and children are the main things you’ll be thinking about as you wait in the queue at your local polling place, there are some very clear choices.

Since coming to power in 2013, the Coalition Government has comprehensively wasted six years that could have seen the embedding and strengthening of policies to ensure more children have more access to high-quality early education.

Instead, the Government’s record speaks for itself.

Four separate Ministers with responsibility for early education.

The threatening of preschool funding every single year.

The cutting of professional development funding to the sector.

The cutting of funding to the National Quality Agenda.

A flagship policy that was only delivered in 2018, five years into their Government, that cut access to early education for the most vulnerable children in Australia.

The introduction of additional administrative burden and complexity to funding.

Regardless of who wins the upcoming election, the sector will be recovering from these wasted six years for quite some time.

The Opposition have announced many positive policies for the NQF sector, but most of them do not have the level of detail we require to fully analyse them.

But we do know that the Labor Party has had strong advocates for early education, such as the retiring Kate Ellis, developing these policies behind the scenes.

As we head into another overwhelming election campaign, it’s important that we start from a place of honesty.

If early education and the NQF is the biggest issue for you, the current Government have spent six years demonstrating they do not take it as seriously as you do.

Let’s hope that the election result sets Australia up for six years of making positive gains in early education policy.

Liam McNicholas is the Editor of the Framework. The Framework will be providing regular updates throughout the election campaign.

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