October 6th, 2020

Federal Budget fails key test with inadequate investment in early learning.


The Federal Government has been urged to invest more in Australia’s early learning system after missing the opportunity in tonight’s Federal Budget.

Thrive by Five CEO and former South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill said the budget was a missed opportunity.

“The government has made jobs the litmus test of this budget. There is no more important jobs investment now – and in the future – than creating a high-quality early learning system,” Mr Weatherill said.

“It is disappointing this Federal Budget missed the opportunity to significantly invest in early learning but our focus now turns to the May 2021 Budget.”

“For every $1 of taxpayer money invested in early learning, the government receives about $2.16 in increased workplace participation benefits, while giving Australian children the best start in life.”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has concluded that every $1 million spent on childcare creates about 9.2 jobs, while every $1 million spent on constructions creates around one job.

“In addition, early learning is a sector dominated by female workers, going a long way towards addressing the ‘pink recession’.”

“Recent polling found 65 per cent of Australians agree we need to develop a universal, optional system of early learning that is accessible to everyone and part of our public education system.”

The Thrive by Five campaign has captured the attention and support of parents, workers, and educators since being launched in September – and we will continue to mobilise support and augment our level of activity in 2021, and beyond.

“Over the years the early learning system has become complex and outdated, now is the time for bipartisan support for a key economic reform that will drive workforce participation, productivity, GDP and government revenue.”

“We believe these arguments are so compelling they need to be addressed. An opportunity was missed in this budget. We can’t afford to miss another opportunity in next year’s Federal Budget.”

Thrive by Five budget priorities

The early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector can play a major role in Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 recession by:

  • Supporting more parents who seek to increase their hours of work, directly addressing the dual challenge of plunging workforce participation rates and looming labour shortages from reduced immigration.
  • Providing fiscal stimulus by reducing families’ out-of-pocket costs for childcare which will flow directly into increased household spending.
  • Increasing employment by generating more jobs in the ECEC sector at a more cost-effective rate than investing in infrastructure or tax cuts.
  • Supporting Australia’s long-term economic productivity and growth and social equity by increasing the number of children starting school ready for school, and launched on a more successful lifelong learning journey.