Mr McEACHAN (Redlands—LNP) (10.28 pm): I rise tonight to bring to the attention of the House the very important work being done in the delivery of the early childhood development program in the Redlands. However, in spite of this, the Palaszczuk Labor government recently signalled that the ECDP would be axed due to the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Labor minister Jones’s subsequent partial backflip has served only to prolong the uncertainty. Families are at a loss to explain why the minister saw fit to play politics with this issue. Certainty and stability for parents and children are of paramount importance.
The Queensland Teachers’ Union expressed its ongoing support for the ECDP. In my meeting with the QTU, I was pleased to hear that the union wanted the same certainty for students, parents and teachers, and why would it not? This program is vital and teachers know that it gets results. At my recent mobile offices, parents of children currently in, or graduated from, the ECDP dropped in to express their dismay at Labor’s position and to thank me as an LNP member for our strong support of this vital program.
Parents, grandparents, teachers and supporters tell story after story of children who would otherwise have fallen behind in their education and who have blossomed under the program and are doing great not just in their academic work but also socially and emotionally. To cast a pall of uncertainty over the future of this program is a heartless, ham-fisted approach by Labor that has parents worried sick. It is clear that Minister Jones has jumped on an opportunity to ditch the ECDP under the guise of funding from NDIS. The LNP will not allow this to happen without a fight, and we are standing up for those in our community who, in spite of a tough start in life, meet their challenges with humour, courage and determination. This program works because it has decades of corporate experience. It is educational, it is classroom centred, it prepares children for school and it can only be delivered successfully by schools like the Redland District Special School and many others around the state.
I take this opportunity to thank Principal Andrew Thompson and the staff at the Redland District Special School. The school enjoys an excellent reputation in Redlands city as a professional, caring and empowering educational facility for our community. I also thank the parents who have spoken to me about this issue affecting their families. I want to make particular mention of Louisa, Sam and Anne, all of whom took the time to advocate on this issue. I remain resolute in the defence of the early childhood education program, and I urge the Palaszczuk Labor government and Minister Jones to back it completely and remove uncertainty for children, parents and teachers.