Had a good hearing at the Meet the Candidates meeting organized by the National Council of Women the other night.

The Greens, as they have done in the past with Craig Carson, have put up a solid candidate in Dave Kennedy.  He and I agree on a lot of ‘green issues’ so our point of difference will likely be on particular educational issues!

Speaking of educational issues, the Labour candidate – who seems more interesting in manipulating images of my ute  than debating policy – said on Tuesday that National had cut funding for early childhood education.  In the first of what is sure to be a series of rebuttals, here’s some facts:

  • The National-led Government is spending $1.4 billion on early childhood education – more than any other Government
    The increased funding will help the children who need it the most.
    ECE funding has trebled over the last five years, but the number of children starting school with some form of ECE has increased by only around one per cent.
    We are bringing spending under control, while targeting funding at the children who need it the most.
    It is not good enough that in some areas of the country up to 40 per cent of children are missing out on ECE.
    The Labour Party, whose mismanagement is the source of this ECE blow-out, has said it will reverse this Government’s sound financial decisions – but there is no explanation of where the money will come from.
    This is yet another promise which the local Labour candidate knows her party cannot fulfil or pay for.

But wait, there’s more:

  • Budget 2011 pledged an extra $537 million on ECE over four years, including
  • $416.7 million over four years to meet the increased demand from population growth, and more children staying in ECE for longer periods of time.
  • $21.5 million over four years to extend and strengthen the early childhood equity fund, which provides additional resources to services with high enrolments of children from priority groups

So if you’re a parent with children in ECE, don’t believe anyone who tells you the Government is cutting ECE funding.  Like every other precious taxpayer dollar, it is being prioritized to where it is best used.