The State Government today renewed its challenge to the Opposition parties to spell out their timetable for the introduction of voluntary full time pre-primary education for five-year-olds.
Education Minister Kay Hallahan said comments by shadow Education spokesman Fred Tubby on radio this morning cast doubt on the future of the program under a Liberal-National government.
"Mr Tubby said an incoming Liberal government would review the pre-primary program and that it was not a high priority," she said.
"His remarks are compounded by the Liberal education policy which has no detail about when, or if, all schools will offer the voluntary program."
The Minister said Mr Tubby's comments smacked of a deal between the Liberals and hardliners in the National Party who opposed the voluntary full-time pre-primary program.
"Parents have a right to know if the introduction of the program will be delayed by the Liberals to appease the National Party," she said.
"Full-time pre-primary education for thousands of five-year-olds could be in jeopardy if the National Party gets its way.
"The Government has offered the pre-primary program to 7,500 five-year-olds this year as the first stage of its policy to extend the opportunity to all five year olds in 1994.
"This is despite the best efforts of the Liberal and National parties to block the introduction of the program."
Mrs Hallahan said the National Party's education policy released late last year stated it would 'continue to oppose the use of public monies for the provision of full-time pre-primary education for five-year-olds, even on a voluntary basis'.
The Minister said the Government would press ahead with the program as it would provide five-year-olds with sound preparation for their formal years of schooling.