9 Nov 2008

ABC Learning says NZ daycare centres safe

8:38 am on 9 November 2008

The childcare company, ABC Learning Centres, says the Australian Government has agreed to continue funding its work there but won't say for how long.

Daycare for more than 100,000 Australian children is in question after ABC Learning went into receivership in Australia on Thursday with debts of up to $A700 million.

However, the New Zealand general manager, Craig Presland, says the New Zealand business is a stand-alone entity and is in a strong position.

Officials from the Ministry of Education met with ABC New Zealand management on Friday, to discuss how to keep the centres operating.

Mr Presland says an assurance has been given that current subsidies will continue.

ABC Learning operates 119 centres around New Zealand, providing care for about 7,700 children.

The education union, the NZEI, says long-term security is vital for teachers, parents and children.

The New Zealand government says ABC New Zealand centres will remain open and funded, so children can continue to attend.

Trading of shares in the financially troubled Australian company was halted in August.

The ABC Learning Centres company was placed into voluntary administration on Thursday and the Federal Government is committing up to $A22 million to keep the doors open.

The ABC reports that it emerged on Friday the company is nearly $2 billion in debt. Australia's biggest banks have confirmed they are owed more than $A700 million.