The business of caring

Deborah Brennan, The AGE

THE collapse of ABC Learning is an opportunity for the Rudd Government to rethink the fundamentals of Australian early education and care….

How did we get into this mess? Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has blamed John Howard for “letting the market rip”, but it was the Hawke government, in 1991, that introduced market forces into the sector. It did this by extending child-care assistance to the users of for-profit care and then by changing the structure of Commonwealth funding to encourage private provision and marginalise the community sector.

Labor promised that the market would lead to greater choice and lower fees. It decreed that private businesses, not governments, should determine the location of services, even though huge public subsidies were involved. Under Labor’s system, there was no cap on the number of long day care centres that private operators could set up….

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