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Date:

Minister for Education Dan Tehan interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB The Ray Hadley Morning Show

Ministers:

The Hon Dan Tehan MP
Minister for Education

Friday, 3 April 2020

SUBJECTS: Coronavirus and Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package

Ray Hadley: Now, I notice the Minister’s online. Let’s go to him straight away. Dan Tehan, he’s there right now, and he can give you some answers. Dan, thanks very much for making yourself available, Minister.

Dan Tehan: Pleasure, Ray. Always a pleasure to be with you.

Hadley: I just had a very enlightening conversation with a young lady named Vicki Skoulogenis. She’s the former president of the Child Care New South Wales. She’s also an operator. And, she’s portrayed it in a much different light to some of the people contacting me, saying this has saved her businesses, and will save many, many businesses.

Tehan: That’s right. It will. We’ve worked very closely with the sector in putting this package together. The package is designed to make sure as many centres as possibly can will be open right around the nation. The sector is made up of 86 per cent small businesses, so operators, whether they’re for profit or not for profit. And, so, we’ve had to design a package which ensures that they’re financially stable, and can keep providing that care to those workers who are out there working on behalf of our nation to defend against this pandemic. So, that’s what we’ve done. There will be the occasional anomaly, and we understand that. But, we’ve also designed the package to be able to accommodate that. It’s, we’ve had to change the way we’re funding child care in this nation, and design a way to do it in the space of days. Now, we understand that it won’t fit every single operator out there. And, for those individual cases, we’ve made it very clear we want to work with you and your individual circumstances, to make sure that you remain financially viable as well.

Hadley: Well, Vicki just told me, and this is why it was enlightening. She must have two preschools. One has dropped below that 30 per cent; the other has not. So, one was going to be okay, one was not. Now, I spoke to you privately this morning about another complaint from someone who appears to be a [indistinct] whinger, by the way. But, that’s another story for another day. But, the thing about it is, he’s saying, ‘The world is going to fall apart. We’ve not dropped below 30 per cent. What do we do? We don’t, we’re successful. We won’t get JobKeeper, but we’ll still lose money because we got half revenue.’ You’ve already said to me, and yesterday the announcement was, if there are gaps in all of this, they’ll be filled. It’ll be right. It’ll be okay. No one’s going to be disadvantaged to any great extent.

Tehan: That’s correct, Ray. And, we continue to work with the sector. We understand that these are unprecedented times. These are uncharted waters we’re trying to navigate. We want to get as many people through this. We want to get as many families through this, and we want to get as many providers through this as well. And, our commitment is to work with the sector to do that, and the package is designed to enable us to be able to do that.

Hadley: Now, the other one is these home or family day care centres, which are much smaller by definition, and they’re saying to me the same thing. One gentleman said, ‘We’ve got eight or nine children here. We’re only going to get half the money. The other half won’t come from the families, as it previously did. What do we do?’ So, what position are they in at this particular time? Have you taken them into account?

Tehan: Absolutely. And, my department was voicing that part of the sector this morning to go through what the package would mean for them, and how we will, once again, accommodate them. And, there will be more information that will be provided to them – my hope is by this afternoon – so that they fully understand that what we’ll be doing for them, and making sure that they remain sustainable through this, because they’ll be an essential component, as well, to get us through this. So, I understand that we have announced an enormous change in the space of the last 24 hours, and the sector needs time to digest that, and we need to work through it with them. My commitment to everyone is that I will continue to do this. It is designed to get everyone through, whether it’s the family day care providers, whether there’s those anomalies for those who haven’t seen any reductions in enrolments. Now, there’s not going to be many of them, but there will be some. We’re going to work with them, as well. We want to get everyone through this. We defeat this pandemic by all of us working together to get through it.

Hadley: Minister, look, one thing I’ve noticed sitting here, remotely broadcasting, every time your Government announces a really good initiative, whether it’s the 130 billion JobKeeper, or this one, or the one the Prime Minister is about to announce about landlords and tenants, I spend the next three days like a brickie trying to fill holes in the wall. And, that’s not your fault. But, what I see is a group of people not grasping the fact that this is an emergency; that we need to pull together in the same direction. Yes, it won’t be perfect. This is not perfect at the moment. But, hopefully, it’ll evolve into somewhere near perfection, as will all the other measures. But, they’re being put in place to save the bloody joint. That’s what they’re being done – to save the country. And, people have got to keep that in mind. It’s not about individuals. It’s about saving the country, so, in 12 months’ time, we can be prosperous and return to our former lives.

Tehan: You’re absolutely right Ray. The previous [audio skip] sector took nine months to do, so, and all involved, obviously, consultation, putting in place legislation, putting that legislation into committees, having it reviewed, having it road tested, etcetera. We were faced with an emergency of the whole sector collapsing. We had to put in place, in days, a new system that would save it. Overall, I’m very happy with the way this has been received. But, we will work together to plug those holes, and, as you say, if everyone works together, we’ll get through this. And, Government is working at a pace that it’s never worked at before. Everyone is trying to do the best for the country. Politics has been put aside. We’ll get there. I’ve got no doubt about it. The leadership the Prime Minister is showing through this is just outstanding, and to see some of it close up is just remarkable. And, I’m absolutely confident we’ll get through this, and we will be stronger on the other side. And, we just want people to work with us.

Hadley: Okay. We’ll keep talking. Keep the dialogue going, and, if we find a problem, you’ll solve it. Thanks for your time Minister.

Tehan: Thanks Ray. Pleasure.

Hadley: All the best. Dan Tehan, the Federal Education Minister there. So, just take a chill pill, if I can use one of the kids’ expressions. Take a chill pill. Just calm down. It’s going to get sorted.