23 June 2021

Former SA Premier Jay Weatherill: “I firmly believe that the Australian Labor Party would be elected at the next federal election on a commitment to make Australia the best place in the world to be a parent, and the best place in the world to grow up. … [Such a platform could] remove the false dichotomy between social and economic policy, build a bridge across Labor’s disparate constituencies and unite and powerfully activate women. … For over a quarter of a century, the Left has been looking for a coherent economic narrative equal to its vision for an equal, empathetic, vibrant, diverse society… in the face of rising insecurity and anxiety we have not done enough to challenge the economic orthodoxy of our generation. The more we used the language of economics to argue for human-centred public policy, the more our electoral proposition appeared limited to a better version of the same product… this limited our capacity to deliver the critique of neoliberalism it deserved, nor did we develop an accessible and attractive alternate vision. The neoliberal agenda, which was once legitimised for its promise of a stronger economy, has produced low growth cycles, unevenly distributed, with rising levels of social dislocation — this is not a healthy picture of a modern society. But during the current pandemic, attitudes to the role of government have changed — people’s vision of government as the source of security has been renewed. People now want, and expect, governments to step up, be active and intervene in their interests.”

He proposes early childhood policy reform to drive this agenda — decommodifying childcare and transforming it from child-minding into an early learning system. Wouldn’t be a bad start.