Campaign Trail: More rego cuts, and free breakfast for school kids gets Berry fired up

Dominic Giannini 25 September 2020 3
Yvette Berry

Education Minister Yvette Berry says Labor will trial free breakfasts and lunches in some schools. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

On The Campaign Trail today, opposition to free food for school children gets Berry fired up, another rego cut from the Liberals and Coe quizzed for questioning the cost of COVID closures.

Students at five public schools will receive free breakfast and lunch three days a week under a Labor pilot program aimed at boosting engagement with students to make sure no one is going hungry.

The five schools have not been chosen but will be selected on the basis of need. The trial is expected to cost around $700,000.

The press conference announcing the initiative took a turn when Education Minister Yvette Berry delivered an impassioned clap back at comments by Liberals candidate Candice Burch.

On her Facebook, Ms Burch wrote: “our school reading and mathematics results are going backwards, and yet instead of figuring out how to give our kids a better education, ACT Labor wants to give free lunch!”

Another Liberals candidate Ignatius Rozario commented: “kids go to school to learn not for free lunch”, prompting a passionate response from the Education Minister.

“That is disgusting,” Ms Berry said.

“All the research shows that when a young person has a full stomach their education will improve. Those kinds of comments show that they just simply do not care about people in our community who are doing it tough, who need a hand up, without the stigmatisation placed on it.”

An extra 25 full-time youth and social workers will also be hired at a cost of $7.4 million if Labor is re-elected, Ms Berry said.

READ ALSO: Cavemen politics is holding the nation back

Liberals pledge $5,000 small business grants

Small businesses will be able to apply for grants of up to $5,000 to help them recover from the pandemic under a plan announced today by Liberal leader Alistair Coe.

The total fund is worth $3 million but there is room to expand it.

Outdoor space will also be deregulated for one year to allow hospitality businesses to expand capacity and use the space directly in front of their shop.

This could allow some businesses to increase their customer size by 10 to 20 per cent, Liberal business spokesperson Andrew Wall said.

Andrew Wall and Alistair Coe

Liberals business spokesperson Andrew Wall and leader Alistair Coe have promised to support businesses with up to $5,000 worth of grants. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

“Minimising risk for the sake of minimising risk” absurd, says Coe

Liberals leader Alistair Coe has come under fire for telling an election forum that “this idea of minimising risk for the sake of minimising risk is absurd” as he appeared to criticise ACT Government COVID-19 restrictions on businesses.

The Liberals have consistently been calling for the quicker easing of restrictions for small businesses, which are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. Labor has criticised the opposition for refusing to listen to the health advice in regards to easing restrictions.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman has opened some sections of the economy slower than others, saying that the accumulative risk of eased restrictions must be managed appropriately.

When Mr Coe was asked to elaborate on his comments by journalists at today’s press conference, he repeated that the Liberals would follow the evidence and experts and do everything they can to support businesses.

He did not directly address questions about whether he supported the actions of Dr Coleman throughout the pandemic or what actions he would have taken to support businesses in lieu of the current health advice.

“The Canberra Liberals support a reasonable risk-based approach to dealing with the pandemic,” Mr Coe said. “We want to lower the cost of living, we want to support businesses and we want to make sure that we have tailored solutions that work for our economy and our businesses.”

Rego reduction redux

The Liberals have made their third rego cut announcement, this time for tradies who will receive a $150 yearly rego reduction.

They estimate the $21 million package will cut the cost of work ute registration by between $116 and $150 a year. This builds on their previous commitments to cut the cost of car registration and business vehicle registrations.

READ ALSO: Three decades’ population growth needed in a year to fund Libs’ election promises: Labor

$3 million flight fund

ACT Labor will spend $3 million over the next four years in tourism marketing partnerships in a bid to attract more domestic flights to Canberra.

The fund comes off the back of Alliance Airlines announcing it will expand into the Canberra market and introduce flights from the capital to the Sunshine Coast and Cairnes from 23 October.

Alliance Airlines

Alliance Airlines have offered Canberrans new Queensland destinations from 23 October. Photo: supplied.

Canberra Airport and Tourism Australia will partner with the fund to bring more low-cost airlines to Canberra and expand services from the ACT.

Hobart is the next destination on the list after Canberrans have been allowed back into South Australia and Queensland as restrictions have eased.

“In the medium term, the fund will be used to target the re-establishment of direct flights between Canberra and New Zealand if a travel bubble is created with Australia”, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.

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3 Responses to Campaign Trail: More rego cuts, and free breakfast for school kids gets Berry fired up
thebscaller thebscaller 10:05 am 26 Sep 20

This has to be the worst election campaigns by both parties ever. In such an economic environment both parties are making bold statements to win votes which will not happen.
On one side we have the wasteful Labour Party that will sweep in with another 4 years as that’s Canberra.
On the other side you have an opposition with the worst leader by far and the rest of them looking like a bunch of bores. one in particular, mark Parton, uses his position to constantly self promote himself via social media. Mr Parton thinks he is the smartest person in the assembly and that he has this massive supporter base behind him when in fact it’s quite the opposite. He makes bold statements that won’t be backed up financially and he and the liberal party know it. Mr look at me Parton will be gunning to replace mr coe once they get a flogging in the election and mr Parton will just make sure that they will loose the next election after this one if that happens. His tacky, his arrogant and his a zed supporter and that in itself should be enough for people to not believer a word that comes out of his mouth.

Stephen Saunders Stephen Saunders 9:59 am 26 Sep 20

Even in wealthy Canberra, I wouldn’t necessarily scoff, at the idea of school meals. You’d be surprised, how many under-loved kids are sent to school with no breakfast and junk-food lunches.

I’ve known teachers to organise breakfasts informally, at govie schools. Ideally, it shouldn’t be their concern, but at least they care.

bj_ACT bj_ACT 5:24 pm 25 Sep 20

I certainly wish the Education Minister would focus on supporting more education resources in struggling schools instead of election sweeteners.

This may well be worth a trial in ‘conjunction’ with other educational trials, but releasing this left field trial in the middle of an election campaign across 5 seperate schools smells of electioneering not education.

I know a number of teachers in struggling Tuggeranong public schools, they all complain about the struggle to stop the best teachers moving to the better schools, they complain things are getting worse than they were a decade ago and they complain about the lack of general resources and support for teachers.

On the other hand, I’ve never heard a teacher say that they wish they could feed the kids.

I’m sure there’s twenty better interventions you could do for struggling schools but if it goes ahead I just hope it’s a successful trial. I’ll nominate the schools in Charnwood, Richardson and Kambah as the top candidates.

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