Local Members slam Labor’s public preschool plan

NORTH Coast Nationals MPs are demanding answers on a State Government plan for public preschools they say ignores the needs of local families.

The locations for 100 new public preschools to be delivered across the state were released this week by the State Government, including 49 in regional NSW.

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Described by the Government as the “biggest expansion of public preschools in NSW history”, the new schools will be co-located at public primary school sites.

The new preschools are set to be built over the next three years, with the state Government claiming to have prioritised the “areas of greatest need” across NSW.

New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said the Government’s $769 million investment is an important step towards “delivering expanded preschool access for all families across NSW”.

However, with no preschools promised for the Coffs Harbour electorate and only one for Oxley, local Nationals MPs are up in arms over the announcement.

Prior to the 2023 NSW State Election, which the Coalition eventually lost, they promised to deliver 500 preschools in four years.

Member for Oxley Michael Kemp, while welcoming the announcement of a new preschool to be located at Bowraville Central School, said the Labor Government had “gutted” the Coalition’s original commitment.

“Access to early education is vital in the growth of our children,” Mr Kemp said.

“We are fortunate to have received one preschool in Oxley, but the price of NSW Labor’s revised plans is costing the needs of our other local communities.”

Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh branded the decision as “extremely disappointing” for families across his electorate.

“Sadly they will not be delivering any preschools in our local community in this term of government.

“The Premier and Minister for Education must explain to the parents of the Coffs Harbour electorate why their children will miss out,” he said.

For comparison, the Hunter region is set to receive twelve new public preschools.

The State Government has branded the Coalition’s pre-election commitment as unrealistic, describing it as “a last minute announcement made on the eve of an election, with zero consultation and no proper planning”.

Sites for the 100 new preschools were selected by a NSW Department of Education panel, overseen by an independent chair and probity advisor, based on assessment criteria which considered educational need, child development and socioeconomic data, preschool demand and infrastructure feasibility.

NSW Department of Education Secretary Murat Dizdar said the program has been informed by consultation with educators, teachers and local communities.

“We are committed to working hard to deliver high quality education and closing equity gaps, so more families and children in NSW can access early childhood public education,” Mr Dizdar said.

However Sarah Mitchell, Shadow Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, believes this doesn’t add up, claiming many areas of regional NSW are set to “completely miss out under the Minns Labor Government”.

“The Labor Government has no intention to deliver the early childhood services our families in the bush need, and once again are showing a complete lack of knowledge and empathy for those who live outside of Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong,” Ms Mitchell said.

“They are not going to be able to deliver free preschool for five days a week for every child, and it will be our children in the regions who will be left behind.

“Investment in early childhood services in the regions is critical to ensure our children are starting school with the emotional, social and cognitive skills they need.

“But under Labor, our children and families are just not getting the support they need.”

The Department of Education currently operates 101 preschools across NSW, with forty of those in regional and rural areas.


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