Prime Minister Helen Clark must come clean and explain to New Zealand parents just how she intends to deliver on her election promise of '20 free hours' early childhood education for 92,000 pre-schoolers, says National Party Leader John Key.
"This election promise of '20 free hours' childcare for all 3 and 4-year-olds is rapidly starting to look like an election fraud.
"Helen Clark basked in the glory of the policy's announcement at Auckland's Tots Corner and other centres around the country.
"Now she's nowhere to be seen on the issue, hiding behind the hapless Education Minister Steve Maharey as her officials come to the realisation they cannot make this policy work.
"Maybe on Friday, when the Prime Minister is opening a new Kiddicorp centre in Auckland, she will be able to explain whether her Government intends to honour her promise of delivering '20 free hours' to all 3 and 4-year-olds and if so, how she intends to do this.
"The sector already has many areas that are over-subscribed with children on waiting lists, many rural communities without teacher-led services, automatically cutting them from the scheme, and many centres already saying they won't offer '20 free hours' because funding rates simply won't cover costs.
"While it suited the Ms Clark to create the myth before the election that all 3 and 4-year-olds would benefit from the policy, the truth is, there was no way 92,000 kids were ever going to access '20 free hours'.
"The Prime Minister needs to detail now what changes she will be making to the scheme to make it work, or come clean and apologise for misleading parents who she promised would have '20 free hours' childcare available to them.
"This policy is a clear example of a desperate Labour Party who, late in the 2005 election campaign, were prepared to promise anything and everything simply to be re-elected.
"Now, in the cold light of day, there is a deafening silence on how they intend to make good on their commitment.
"'20 free hours' is a shambles and the Government knows it.
"Thursday's announcement by the Auckland Kindergarten Association that they won't be opting in until there are policy changes can't go unanswered by the Prime Minister, given the association represents 10% of all eligible 3 and 4-year-olds.
"If a not-for-profit organisation like Auckland's Kindergarten Association finds the scheme unworkable, what hope is there for the other commercial providers in the sector?
"Unless Helen Clark can answer these questions and make good on her promise then she will have to accept her party is guilty of nothing short of election fraud."Tweet