The heat remains on the Gillard Government to provide relief to Gippsland families left out in the cold by cuts to ‘Take a Break’ funding. New Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie has given her backing to the efforts of Nationals Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, who has been fighting in Canberra to ensure that the funding is reinstated.
Mr Chester has lodged a petition which calls on the Gillard Labor Government to reinstate funding for occasional childcare services. The petition has been accepted by the Parliament.
The campaign also received a boost when the Victorian Government announced that it would reinstate its 30 per cent contribution to the program if the Gillard Government agreed to provide the remaining 70 per cent.
At this stage, the Gillard Government has refused to reinstate the funding however, the Coalition remains committed to providing the $12 million needed to keep the program running should it win government at the next election.
Families in smaller Gippsland towns such as Heyfield, Gormandale, Paynesville, Cann River, Swifts Creek and Mallacoota will all be affected unless the Federal Childcare Minister Kate Ellis reverses the funding cut announced in last year’s Budget.
Services offered in larger towns which also have long waiting lists, will also be affected.
Mr Chester said Gippsland families weren’t interested in the arguments between politicians at state and federal level – they just want some certainty of funding.
“The Federal Government is saving $12 million by cutting vital childcare services in regional areas. In some cases the current services operating through the ‘Take a Break’ program are the only childcare programs available to the local community,” Mr Chester said.
“But at the same time, the Labor Party is planning to spend $12 million of taxpayers money on an advertising propaganda campaign to promote the carbon tax. It’s no wonder that people are telling me that Prime Minister Julia Gillard is completely out of touch with everyday Australians.”
Senator McKenzie said regional communities should not be made to suffer uncertainty any longer by the Gillard Government.
“The Minister and the government have to get their priorities right and begin to work with the Victorian Government to fix this mess,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Without occasional childcare services, hundreds of parents won’t be able to work. These services are often used by parents with part time jobs and as a result of the uncertainty, they’ll have to stay at home and look after their children.”
Gippslanders can support the campaign to have ‘Take a Break’ funding reinstated by signing the petition and sending a message to Canberra about how important childcare is to regional communities.
Copies of the petition are available at Mr Chester’s Sale and Traralgon offices as well as online at www.darrenchester.com.