NATIONAL AFFAIRS by Chris McCormackNews Weekly
Coalition family package must include homemakers
, February 28, 2015
Now that the Coalition’s paid parental leave (PPL) scheme has been scrapped, to be replaced by a “families package”, let’s hope that any new policy addresses the discrimination against families who choose to raise their children at home.
Minister for Social Services
An Australian Family Association study found the majority of Australian women surveyed prefer to raise their own children rather than relinquish that role to a childcare centre.
With the slashing of financial incentives such as the baby bonus, which helped families with the cost of raising a family and encouraged a steady birth rate in order to stave off an ageing welfare-dependent society, it is even more imperative that a policy which encourages a higher birth rate, and supports families without enforcing a social engineering philosophy, be implemented.
Abbott’s skewed PPL scheme would have perpetuated a traditionally socialist, radical feminist-type agenda whereby young mothers were compelled to divest care of their newborns after six months to paid strangers, and were forced to return to paid work in order to qualify for the PPL.
This policy catered to an ideology which sees no difference between the sexes: one merely gives birth, puts one’s child in care and then moves on with one’s career.
It also ignored those mothers who were not in paid work because they were busy raising existing children. As a result, these mothers were not allowed to claim PPL benefits.
In fact, women who have three or more children — i.e., who make up the majority of the nation’s births — are usually not in paid work when their children are all young. These families provide the next generation of tax-paying workers, yet they receive virtually no assistance.
Families which place their young children in institutionalised childcare receive far more generous government financial assistance than do families which choose family-based home-care.
Parents who believe that it is in the best interests of children to bond with and learn from their parents in the formative years are heavily penalised. This is pure discrimination directed against stay-at-home mothers.
Surely, all families should receive equal assistance towards the rearing of their children. They can then spend that money how they see best, and not be dictated to by a government forcing families down a particular path of child-rearing.
Indications seem to be that the Abbott Coalition government’s “families package” will target more affordable child care as a way of increasing the number of women in paid employment.
This is misguided thinking on three levels:
1) The better way to increase the number of people in the paid workforce long-term, thereby raising productivity and lowering welfare dependency, is to increase the birth rate substantially. Australia needs policies that encourage larger families, however parents may choose to raise their children.
2) Numerous longitudinal studies have highlighted the fact that children, especially in the first few years of life, who are reared by their parents (as opposed to being put into institutional child care) fare better in all measurable parameters, including intelligence, educational outcomes, employment, prevalence of crime, relationships, substance abuse, etc. The myth that day-care is necessary to improve children’s abilities has no scientific basis and is probably the result of fierce lobbying from the childcare industry and other powerful vested interest groups.
Any subsidies directed towards the childcare industry only discriminate further in a tyrannical fashion against parents who wish to care for and raise their own children.
3) Perversely, the Coalition’s “families package”, whose aim is to increase paid employment among women with newborns, will only add to the woes of sole breadwinners attempting to earn a livelihood. Decently-paid jobs for all those willing and able to work are but a distant dream now that manufacturing, agriculture and mining are declining in Australia. As women with young children are increasingly coerced financially into seeking paid work outside the home, discontentment will flourish amongst the youth, especially singles and men attempting to support home-care families, who can no longer find jobs in the rapidly shrinking employment market.
A cohesive Coalition policy to encourage the next generation of tax-paying workers should consist of tax breaks, such as family income-splitting and non-discriminatory subsidies, which recognise that families are the cornerstone of society. Tax relief and other incentives should favour families with dependent children over single taxpayers who do not bear the costs of raising a family.
The way for the Coalition to restore its standing with the public is to actually listen to what families are saying, not to powerful lobby groups. Until the Coalition does this, it will continue to be irrelevant to many Australians, and will allow radical feminist ideology and misplaced “expert” advice to continue to determine family policy.
Chris McCormack lives in Victoria Point, Queensland.