The week in politics for sleep-deprived mums: Gender is on the agenda.

Do you think this is sexist?

“Let’s face it, men in Australia rely on women in Australia to do the childcare and to organise the childcare.”

This comment was made by Bill Shorten when he launched Labor’s childcare policy this week, and it caused a bit of a stir.

From where I’m sitting – whilst it is a generalisation – it’s an unfortunate reality. In the same way women continue to battle for equal pay, there’s a cultural shift that needs to take place within Australian workplaces where dads are supported to share the childcare load.

what to expect from the 2016 election

"...men in Australia rely on women in Australia to do the childcare and to organise the childcare.” Image via ABC. 

We should be talking about this imbalance more, because until this shift takes place, women will continue to be lumped with the burden of managing childcare.

I worry a lot about organising childcare.

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My daughter is four months old and where we live in Melbourne’s inner west, places are scarce. There’s so few spots available that old hands tell you to apply while you are still in hospital after giving birth (yes - seriously), and a lot of stalking of poor centre managers goes on.

sending child to childcare

"Places are scarce." Image via iStock. 

Then, if you win the wait list lottery, you have to think about your budget. In many households ‘what can we afford?’ is often followed by, ‘is it worth it?’

Following the release of Labor’s policy this week I’ve heard quite a few women say that increasing the rebate to $10,000 is the difference between whether they can pick up an extra day at work or not. Massive, right?

Of course, the Liberal Party have also committed to increasing the rebate to $10,000 (Alys Gagnon compares the policies here), but their childcare reforms are flagged to start in 2018, and are dependent on savings from cuts to family tax benefits. This article neatly summarises winners and losers.

In discussing the two different policies, someone mentioned to me that, while they sound great, they find it hard to trust either party to deliver the goods.

This comment made me reflect on why we don't have a great deal of faith in politicians.

Will either party deliver the goods? 

There’s a difference between lying, or being deliberately deceptive, and making a commitment you can’t keep. Often, people will forgive a promise that can’t be kept if the reason is explained properly. Unfortunately, in Australian politics this line is always blurred, the combativeness takes over and people just switch off.

Language matters. For years, Tony Abbott referred to Julia Gillard as a liar. Then, when he was elected, he came to office promising a paid parental leave scheme that supported ‘women of calibre.’ Of course, when the promise was broken these same women turned into ‘double dippers.’

Given years of this sniping, it’s little wonder trust is low and pollsters are reporting increased support for independents. Both leaders responded to these polls this week, reminding us that we risk a hung parliament - with many exasperated voters expected to cast their ballot early when polling places open next week.

While Bill Shorten has been talking about mums, Malcolm Turnbull has been talking about dads. His dad, in particular.

Malcolm Turnbull's talks about his humble childhood. Post continues below. 

Video by Australian Liberal Party

You may have seen a rather pleasant Facebook ad launched by the Liberal Party this week, where the PM speaks lovingly about his dad and his upbringing, stressing the point that they didn't always have it easy.

Some have said that this is disingenuous, that, actually, the PM went to an exclusive private school and had a fairly privileged upbringing.

Whatever the case, the ad points to concern within the Liberal ranks that Labor’s message about Turnbull’s support for the top end of town is cutting through.

It’s also a ‘getting to know you’ effort. Both Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull are racing to build up that trust and familiarity that’s so desperately needed with voters, and I’m sure we will see a similar ad from the Labor leader soon.

In other political news worth noting this week - Hillary! Historic news for women the world over.

As a dear friend of mine said - ‘our daughters will grow up thinking a woman running for President is normal.’ Indeed.

Are we nearly there yet? A little over half way.

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