The Cook Labor Government has been caught out not spending funds allocated in the 2022-23 financial year on its election commitment to improve access to early childhood education and care services for families living in regional WA.
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education Donna Faragher said answers to questions in State Parliament had revealed that of the $1.43 million in funds budgeted in the 2022-23 financial year, only $200,000 had been allocated so far by the Cook Labor Government.
Mrs Faragher said it also took two attempts in Question Time for the Government to finally reveal the actual situation.
“The Cook Labor Government has talked big about their election commitment to introduce initiatives that support the viability of regional early childhood education and care services.
“Yet when questioned in State Parliament, it is now clear the Government has spent well below the actual funds budgeted in the 2022-23 financial year.
“This is made worse by the fact the budget papers imply the estimated actual spend in 2022-23 is $1.43 million yet it appears that only $200,000 has been spent.
Mrs Faragher said it appeared the funding allocated so far under the election commitment had also only gone to one part of their election commitment, that being the Attraction and Retention Packages for Regional Child Care Workers Program.
“The Minister for Early Childhood Education has stated the second part of the Government’s commitment is to develop initiatives that ‘support the viability of regional early childhood education and care services through advice or support or resources or through the development of a clustering model’ (Legislative Council Hansard, 13/6/2023).
“But according to the Minister’s response in Parliament, ‘further details regarding this initiative will be released soon’.
“Everyone understands early childhood education and care services are facing significant challenges across the board, particularly with respect to workforce shortages, and this is particularly acute in parts of regional WA.
“The budget papers give the impression that funds have been fully allocated and distributed when in fact the reality appears quite different.
“While the Opposition will support initiatives that will have a measurable and positive impact, the funding needs to be released,” Mrs Faragher said.