Monday, August 5, 2013

PM goes for care factor - Sydney Morning Herald

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Kevin, kids and the cost of living

Kevin Rudd unveils a $450 plan to use schools for child care - and says the money is already allocated in the budget.

Kevin Rudd has made a major pitch for the votes of battling families in the outer suburbs, announcing extended out-of-school-hours care for up to 345,000 children.

The $450 million plan designed to give frustrated parents longer to get to and from work was one of two big-spending promises unveiled by Mr Rudd, with another $200 million dedicated to propping up the beleaguered automotive sector, still reeling from Labor's sudden change to Fringe Benefits Tax treatment of private-use cars.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was also focusing on cost-of-living pressures, travelling to a meatworks in the marginal Brisbane Labor seat of Blair to announce that his first act as prime minister would be to repeal the carbon tax. He said he had written to the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to indicate it would be the top priority from day one of an Abbott-led government.

Kevin Rudd.

Kevin Rudd: "A kid's development doesn't just begin at nine and end at three". Photo: Getty Images

Both promises came on a day characterised by gaffes and over-reach with misrepresentations or outright lies abounding.


Mr Abbott's message was partially compromised by the fact that the JBS meatworks chosen for his renewed war on the carbon tax had received $4.4 million in carbon price adjustment assistance.

In a sign of the first-day pressure, Mr Rudd's childcare promise was accompanied by a false claim that Mr Abbott had stated he was planning a $70 billion raid on federal spending.

''It is allocated,'' Mr Rudd said of his new childcare pledge. ''That is why we are investing in Australian families and what they need, as opposed to Mr Abbott who has said he will be in the business of ripping $70 billion out which means cuts to jobs, education and education services as well as cuts to health.''

Asked to show where Mr Abbott had made any such statement, Mr Rudd provided no evidence.

Mr Rudd said the new out-of-hours commitment would see grants of up to $200,000 paid to some 500 schools to offer more places, more flexible opening hours before and after school and during holiday times, and new programs such as organised sport, homework clubs and music tuition.

Declaring ''a kid's development doesn't just begin at nine and end at three,'' and that people's jobs didn't end with the school bell either, he said parents had been crying out for extra help such as out-of-hours education beginning at 7am and extending as late as 7pm.

Last month Fairfax Media revealed some areas of Sydney are facing a critical shortage in after-school care, with significant waiting lists at some schools.

The chairwoman of the National Out of School Hours Services Association, Robyn Monro Miller, said the funding would go a long way if spent wisely. ''We hope the investment will target the areas where the need is greatest,'' she said.

The $450 million fund would allow up to 500 schools to offer more flexible opening hours, more places and high-quality activities such as homework clubs, music lessons and supervised sport.
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