30 April 2019

Labor has announced two major childcare policies as the election campaign steps up a gear. First, a significant increase in fee subsidies, especially for low-income households; in response, Morrison’s Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, shrieked, “This is a fast track to a socialist, if not communist, economy.” Second, funding a 20 per cent increase in childcare wages over the next four years. A partner at Deloitte Access Economics said this was unrealistic “unless we think that perhaps we can have robots looking after our children… literally, that’s the next sort of leap that we’re talking about.” This shows the disconnect between what right-wing economists think childcare workers do (changing nappies, raking sandpits) and what they actually do (all of that and also teaching children during a vital developmental stage). Bill Shorten gets it; in his speech he used the better term, “early-years educators”: “Teaching our children in the early years is one of the most important jobs there is. And yet in our country it is one of the lowest paid jobs in the country. And — like it or not — that sends a message. It speaks volumes for what we value as a nation, for the priority that we place on the betterment of our children and the respect we display to the people who teach them. … A 20 per cent pay rise for the early educators because we value early education.”