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I have a daughter working in child care in Australia. She loves her job and is very good at what she does. However, she is paid a pittance for her skills in this space and the undervaluing of early education in Australia is a disgrace. Listening to Jessica Rudd from The Parenthood advocacy group speak at the National Press Club was enlightening and inspiring. Very little has shifted over many years in this space. The early education rip off in Australia continues. Ten years of Coalition federal governments did next to nothing for the nation in this important sector.

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Child Care An Expensive Failure In Australia

The Libs and the Nat’s are all about private enterprise making profits at the expense of the national need, especially when it comes to the care sector. Proper restructuring and investment by government in the early education space is required. Australia is considered to be a wealthy nation by the raw numbers alone. However, much of this wealth is hoarded by private interests and the policies of the two main political parties are designed around this. Australia is lacking in affordable universal child care, proper aged care, and universal dental care as part of Medicare. Social housing is now a crisis black hole in Australia after decades of neoliberal policies, which neglected investment in the social infrastructure of the nation.

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Private Wealth Interests At The Expense Of Public Need

The economic policies of the conservatively minded parties are all about individuals amassing wealth at the expense of the shared fiscal responsibilities of the nation. No capital gains tax on the family home, even if it is worth tens of millions of dollars. No death taxes. There is no redistribution of wealth measures to help promote a level playing field. The Coalition introduced regressive taxation measures, which are culminating with the stage 3 tax cuts. These further entrench divergence between those born into wealth and those not.

The wealth divide in Australia jumped massively during the last decade via the economic policies of the Liberal party and National party governments.

“Capital gains tax concessions for a main residence were worth $48bn in 2022-23 and rental deductions $24.4bn. In 2019-20 taxpayers reported total rental losses of $10.2bn, delivering them a $3.6bn negative gearing tax benefit.”

Peter Dutton spends his time in parliament aggressively attacking the Albanese government over emotive issues like race, refugees, and war in Gaza and Israel. The Opposition under Dutton refuses all bipartisan entreaties and says No to everything proposed by the government. You would think that after 10 years in government the Coalition would find some grace. Most of the economic policies which have put Australia where it is are from their time in office. It takes at least 18 months to several years for government policies to bear macroeconomic fruit.

Robodebt disgrace: The legacy of the Coalition

Toxic Masculinity LNP Politics Not Serving The Care Sector

The toxic masculinity of the LNP in Australia – see Peter Dutton – is in large part to blame for the underinvestment in the care sector. This predominantly feminised workforce has been treated with indifference and disdain by Coalition governments. They consider them to be babysitters and women with free time on their hands to look after kids and oldies. The LNP do not have many women members in their ranks – they are underrepresented. Those that they have in parliament are working within a toxic masculine framework. The LNP see politics as a brutal arena where bullies and strongmen prevail. Dutton thinks he can bully Anthony Albanese out of office.

Child Care Rip Off Merchants

The early education rip off in Australia has private providers charging what they like.

“Australia’s consumer watchdog has lifted the lid on the burden of childcare costs, revealing families are paying some of the highest costs in the world for their children’s education.

An ACCC report found Aussie parents are paying nearly 80 per cent more than families overseas, with calls for education providers who are “ripping off” families with unreasonable price increases to be named and shamed.

“Australian parents are actually paying 16 per cent of their income towards childcare compared to other countries where it is just nine per cent,” mother-of-two and Working Mummas founder, Carina O’Brien told Today.”

It is time that the Albanese government grows some courage and gets its hands dirty when it comes to leading this country. ALP lite is no longer going to work in the current economic climate. Start paying early educators proper wages, so that the sector can attract and maintain quality staff. Intervene in rural areas by operating national early education centres where they are required. Use existing crown land, where schools are already located in regional areas.

The private sector neoliberal approach does not work in too many instances, when it comes to the child care early education sector.

“At The Parenthood, our vision is clear: every child, irrespective of background or location, deserves the chance to flourish through access to top-tier early childhood education. It’s not merely about education; it’s about building the bedrock of a just and prosperous society,” Ms Rudd said.

Addressing the political and economic landscape, in her speech Ms Rudd will acknowledge the government’s commitment to universal ECEC while also raising concerns about potential challenges and stressed the importance of staying true to this vision.

“Reforming early childhood education is legacy material. It’s a reform that will deliver immediate benefits for families on cost of living, but it is also a reform that will build our future capability. It’s an investment in the leaders of tomorrow,” she notes. 

“Australia should be the best place in the world to be a parent and raise a child. We are the country of Bluey, for goodness sake. We have mangoes and verandahs, the oldest continuing cultures in the world. We are resilient and diverse; vast and bold.” 

Highlighting last week’s report from the Productivity Commission, Ms Rudd will also speak on the flaws in the current activity test – which requires parents to work or study for at least 30 hours a week in order to get the Child Care Subsidy – and the urgent need for workforce reforms in the early childhood education sector. “

Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt, and Financial Freedom. 

©MidasWord

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