Labor caught out lying about childcare workforce
2 Feb | '2024
The Hon Sussan Ley MP
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Industry, Skills and Training
Shadow Minister for Small and Family Business
Shadow Minister for Women
Federal Member for Farrer
Angie Bell MP
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education
Shadow Minister for Youth
Federal Member for Moncrieff
Labor caught out lying about childcare workforce
2 February 2024
A tranche of secret documents demonstrates Labor Ministers have been deliberately using misleading data about Australia’s childcare workforce in media statements and in the Parliament. When confronted with their lie, instead of accepting responsibility, they pathetically tried to blame Hansard for missing a dash.
For months Labor has been saying that the 123,000 educators and childcare workers in the training pipeline have been the result of Labor’s policies “since May 2022”. The secret documents now reveal that the data actually only includes enrolments from 24 months of Coalition Government skills and education policies and is not the result of Labor’s Fee-Free TAFE policies at all.
The documents revealed by the Opposition show the data is aggregated from the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research’s 2022 enrolments and the Department of Education Higher Education Statistics 2021 enrolments.
Fee-Free TAFE was not funded until the October 2022-23 Budget and Fee-Free TAFE agreements were not struck with state governments until late 2022 and early 2023. As a result the first semester of Fee Free TAFE did not start until January 2023 so none of the enrolments captured by the 123,000 figure are from Fee-Free TAFE.
This means the key data point Labor ministers have been using to sell their policies when it comes to the childcare workforce does not include any data from Fee-Free TAFE at all. They have actually been highlighting the pipeline of training established under the Coalition including the JobTrainer program which used both TAFE and industry led Registered Training Organisations.
What’s worse is the documents reveal they knew they were using misleading Australians and the Parliament and did it anyway. The documents reveal official advice from the Department of Education was provided to the Minister’s as they developed a media release to highlight their childcare policies in October 2023. The advice explicitly warns the Minister not to use the data in the way they have been using it.
Advice from Department of Education (Ref: FOI LEX815):
A series of drafts of this media release: Boost to early childhood education and care workforce, reveal the Department tried in vain to keep the Minister’s honest only to have their advice overridden. References to 2021 were removed altogether and then guidance that there be separation of the 123,000 figure with ‘since May 2022’ was also completely ignored.
Media release DRAFT 1:
Media release DRAFT 2:
Final media release wording:
Ignoring the clear advice that this figure includes both 2021 and 2022 enrolments and that the 123,000 should not be framed as since May 2022, the figure has been used repeatedly by Labor Ministers including in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.
Minister Anne Aly gave the following response to a dixer on childcare in the House:
“I’m pleased to inform the House that since the Albanese Labor government came to office there are over 14,000 new educators in the sector and 123,000 in training pathways.”
Minister Murray Watt even sought to attack the Coalition in the Senate while using the training pipeline built by Coalition policies as a proof point and falsely attributing to post-May 2022 policies.
Senator WATT in the Senate:
‘“Ensuring that there were enough workers to look after your child was also a struggle under the previous government. But, since we took office in May 2022, Australia’s early childhood education and care sector has grown by more than 14,000 workers, with a further 123,000 additional educators and teachers in the training pipeline.”
Labor Ministers have been taking credit for Coalition enrolments and trying to pass it off as the result of their policies.
Several Labor Ministers are caught up in this deception and at least two, Minister Aly and Minster Watt have clearly misled the Parliament.
Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Skills and Training, Sussan Ley said that Labor had been caught out taking credit for a childcare workforce pipeline that was actually built by the previous Coalition Government’s skills and training policies.
“Secret emails have revealed just how deceptive these ministers have been in deliberately ignoring departmental advice which warned against making this false claim. This is another lie from a Cabinet of liars, and it leaves Labor’s credibility in tatters,” she said.
“Jason Clare and Brendan O’Connor have misled the Australian people and Anne Aly and Murray Watt have misled the Parliament. All four should immediately apologise and correct the record.”
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education, Angie Bell said it was further evidence the Albanese Government has no idea what it’s doing and continues to claim the successes of the Coalition as their own.
“Labor continues to mislead the Australian public at every turn, in a desperate attempt to say their policies are working,” she said.
“The lack of transparency, from a Government who promised to be more transparent, is disgraceful and those Ministers should come clean with the Australian public.”