Voting with early education in mind? Here’s what you need to know.

This article is the fifth in a weekly series by Lisa Bryant exploring the 2019 Federal Election and how it will affect services operating under the National Quality Framework.

Ok, let’s cut to the chase. Yes, we know you vote on all issues, not just education and care issues. Yes, we know you don’t vote on self-interest as an educator.

But just imagine the only issue you were going to vote on was early education and care – who would you vote for and who would you vote against?

Do you believe ECEC should be free, no matter what working situation parents are in?

The Greens are clearly the party for you.

With them you will get:

  • Free ECEC– a Greens Government would provide free ECEC for children with families earning under $170,000 – with an increased child care subsidy rate for all who earn under $350,000.
  • Abolition of the Activity Test – no child’s early education will be linked to their family’s work situation.
  • A Workforce Strategy – they will support the Big Steps wages campaign and make TAFE and Uni courses free for all early childhood educators.
  • A $200 million capital grants fund –to reduce waiting lists in high need areas.
  • Preschool for 3 and 4 year olds ­– they’d extend Universal Access funding permanently to supply 24 hours a week of preschool education for all 3 and 4 year olds.
  • More money for Aboriginal ECEC– a set portion of the Community Child Care Fund would be allocated to community-controlled First Nations’ services.

Do you believe the current system needs a big improvement, and educators should get higher wages?

The Australian Labor Party may be your party then.

With them you will get:

  • $9.9 billion for educator wage increases – direct pay subsidies of 2% a year over 10 years (for educators in centre-based services) starting from next year, on top of any increases educators get through the Fair Work Commission wage cases.
  • $4 billion for cheaper ECEC – Families earning under $70,000 per year will receive a Child Care Subsidy rate of 100% (meaning some families will pay no fee), and a 10% increase in the subsidy percentage for families earning between $70,000 and $174,000.
  • $1.75 billion for preschool education – permanent ongoing subsidised preschool for 4 year olds, and for 3 year olds from 2021. $100 million fund for workforce development and additional services if required.
  • A review of the Child Care Subsidy, including the Activity Test – More details will be available after the election if Labor win.
  • $20 million for the NQF – restoration of funding for the National Quality Framework

Do you believe early education is only for those children whose parents deserve it, and the current system works well?

The Liberal/National Coalition may be the party for you.

With them you will get:

  • Same Child Care Subsidy and Activity Test – continuation of the Subsidy and Activity Test as per current arrangements.
  • 1 year guaranteed continuation of preschool funding – as per current Universal Access arrangements for 4 year olds.
  • Tax cuts for all – educators earning less than $37,000 will get a tax cut of $255 a year and those earning between $37,000 and $90,000 will get a tax cut of $1080 a year

Do you believe government-funded ECEC is socialism / communism / the end of the world as we know it?

Then there are a variety of micro parties for you to choose from:

Like The Australian Conservatives who believe “We need to clean up the rorting of childcare and not simply expand it further to indoctrinate our kids at ever-younger ages, split families earlier and create new fiefdoms for opportunistic unions, desperate to avert their declining membership base, off the back of lavish taxpayer subsidies”. They also believe we “need to recognise the risks and downsides of institutionalising our children for longer, at ever-younger ages, and contracting out the care of our dependants more generally”.

Or the Christian Democrats who believe “that parents (not the civil government) have the primary responsibility before God for child rearing and the education of their children according to the dictates of their conscience with the sole ability to choose what kind of education they want for their children.”

Or the Fraser Anning Conservative National Party. Although they have no published policy on early education and care, Fraser Anning did form a voting block in Parliament with the delightful David Leyonhjelm who believes educators merely ‘wipe noses and stop kids from killing each other’. Anning also assaulted a child who threw an egg at him, although he wasn’t charged with child abuse by the police.

Regardless of who you vote for, The Framework would like to wish you an enjoyable democracy sausage. The irony of Australians purchasing a sausage on election day to help fundraise for schools starved of government funding is not lost on us, but at least it gives you something to get your teeth into other than an incumbent.

Please remember also that we live in a country where we are free to vote for which ever politician we choose – they are there because we vote them in and leave (primarily) because we vote them out.

And this time the voting some out seems to be an even more joyous pursuit than usual.

Happy Election Day.

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