The first major split in the Opposition parties has emerged - and the issue is child care.
Family Minister Eric Ripper said today that while the National Party had attacked spending on professional child care centres as unnecessary, the Liberals had today given a vague promise to provide exactly these services.
"Given the Nationals' attitude, how can you trust these promises? When the Liberals were in power, child care was an after-thought," Mr Ripper said today.
"Even now, they make no commitment to expand a much-needed service.
"This contrasts with the Government commitment to provide 20 new child care centres and 2,850 out-of-school-hours places in the next four years.
"This Government has more than quadrupled the number of child care places in all their forms - a move which was ridiculed by the Nationals in Parliament just over a year ago.
"If the Nationals now support these Liberal promises, unsatisfactory as they are, it appears they have done a poll-driven backflip.
"If their underlying attitudes continue to show, the Opposition parties will soon find themselves in the same position as the Federal conservatives, who were forced to reverse their plan to apply GST to child care."
On September 12, 1991, Collie MLA Hilda Turnbull told Parliament the Government should not be building child care centres.
"The provision of child care centres is an expenditure of money which the State and Federal Governments cannot afford in a recession," Dr Turnbull said then.
"Why should we encourage more women into the workforce at a time when jobs are so scarce for everyone - men, women and young people? .... Why should we provide child care centres so that women who do not want to go out to work can do so."