A policy decision in the recently released National-ACT coalition agreement documents means landlords will receive a large Christmas bonus that no one voted for – at the expense of tamariki and their educators.
Landlords would now receive around $3 billion in interest deductibility rebates over the next four years, with the accelerated timeline and addition of backdated payments blowing out the policy’s original cost estimate by around $1b – four times more than what would be needed to fully fund parity for early childhood education (ECE) teachers.
“This is a decision to prioritise the interests of those who already have a lot, at the expense of teachers and parents of young tamariki,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National Secretary, Stephanie Mills.
The policy is a double blow for ECE teachers who have spent decades fighting for and winning pay parity, only to recently find out that the previous government walked back from their commitments to fund pay parity after a $253m shortfall came to light.
“Just a quarter of this gift to landlords could fund an entire year of pay parity to recognise and respect the work ECE teachers do, by paying these professionals the same as their teacher colleagues in kindergartens and schools.
“Equally, this additional $1b could have been used to meet the previous government’s commitment to fund 20 hours of ECE for two-year-olds.
“Just as there are 35,000 disappointed educators questioning this new government’s decisions, there will be thousands of parents wondering how they can possibly cover the cost of having young children in ECE in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis,” Ms Mills says.
“We all know that a child’s first 1000 days lay the foundations for their entire future, but instead of ensuring our children get the strongest start in life, this government is focused on delivering money to the wealthy few.
“If we are serious about working to achieve positive change across society, we need to invest in our tamariki – that means supporting high-quality, sustainable ECE to retain and recruit the teachers we so desperately need.”