If you want to have a really honest conversation, there’s no better place than at your mother’s group.
We talk about poo, spew and everything in between.
I’m in two mother’s groups – one is my lovely local group and the other is an online forum of women from all around Australia, who have babies around the same age. It’s an incredible support network, and if politicians want to know what’s going on in the real world – about day to day struggles and aspirations – they should ask a mother’s group for feedback.
This week I asked the other mums what issues were most important to them this election.
Housing affordability, the impact of global warming on future generations, reliance on Medicare and insecure work were key issues, but overwhelmingly, the need for accessible and affordable child care was the number one concern. For many, it’s the difference between being able to participate in the workforce, meet mortgage repayments or save up for a deposit.
"Overwhelmingly, the need for accessible and affordable child care was the number one concern." Image via iStock.
A number of women spoke about the impact of unpredictable waiting lists, in areas of Australia where there’s such a shortage of places, parents sign up when they are pregnant and anxiously wait for an offer - which can take years. Not a good situation for women, their families, or for the economy.
One mum told me that the lack of child care was compounded by discrimination. “Childcare is number 1 for me. By a long shot. Both cost and availability… Also getting into the workforce as a woman of child bearing age in the country is nigh on impossible.”
“There's still a huge issue with equality in the workplace, and it's obvious in country towns - all mixed in with a lack of affordable childcare…because women should be home with the kids, didn't you know?”
These are issues I’ll examine in more detail as the parties release their different policies over the course of the next seven weeks.
Now. Onto this week’s all-you-need-to-know election news.
1. Duncan, Melinda and the Toorak toaster.
Election campaigns are highly scripted affairs, but every now and then, (despite their best efforts), a politician encounters an actual, real, voter who gives them a piece of their mind.
On Monday night, the Assistant Treasurer, Kelly O’Dwyer was taken to task on Q&A by Duncan Storrar, a father of two struggling to make ends meet on the minimum wage. “If you lift my tax-free threshold, that changes my life. That means that I get to say to my little girls, ‘Daddy’s not broke this weekend. We can go to the pictures.’ Rich people don’t even notice their tax-free threshold lift…”
Watch Duncan ask his question on Q&A. Post continues after video...
The Assistant Treasurer launched into a defence of the Government’s planned corporate tax cuts by saying she’d met a cafe owner who would now be able to purchase a $6000 toaster.
It didn’t go down well, and left most people scratching their heads about what kind of toaster would cost more than a car. Mr Storrar’s plight hit a chord with viewers and a crowd funding campaign has raised more than $50,000 in donations.
On Thursday, the Prime Minister encountered his first un-vetted voter, with single mum Melinda telling the PM that the cost of educating her children left her struggling to balance the family budget and that scrapping the School Kids Bonus had hurt her family. After his encounter with Melinda, the PM then made the dubious decision to have lunch at the Athenaeum Club, which, according to their website is ‘a private social club for gentlemen of good character, attainment or promise.’
You read correctly - he had lunch at one of those old, sexist clubs where a requirement of membership is to be a bloke.
2. Greens wheeling and dealing.
The Greens have been campaigning hard to win seats from Labor in inner city areas of Melbourne and Sydney and it was reported this week they have been negotiating a preference deal with the Liberal Party.
At the same time, Greens MP Adam Bandt declared that his party would be open to forming a coalition with Labor in the event of a hung parliament. This sounds confusing because it is - on one hand the Greens are trying to take Labor seats and on the other hand they are saying they would like to form a coalition government with Labor. Turns out it might be wishful thinking with both Labor and Liberal ruling out any deal to form Government with the Greens.
Image via Facebook: Adam Bandt.
3. Where else but Queensland?
Both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten kicked off their campaigns in the sunshine state and Bill Shorten stayed all week. With 14 marginal seats in Queensland and the collapse of Clive Palmer’s political party, Queenslanders can expect to receive a lot of attention over the next seven weeks.
4. Asylum seekers.
The Liberal Party have been enthusiastically pointing out differences of opinion within the Labor Party regarding the offshore processing and mandatory detention of asylum seekers. Senior Labor politicians have repeatedly stated that their policy is unchanged, (and is effectively the same as the Coalition policy).
The Coalition have gotten themselves into hot water with their wealthier supporters over changes to the way large super balances are taxed. Labor supports the reduction in tax concessions but doesn't think they should be applied retrospectively. It’s complex, but only impacts you if you have $1.6 million in the kitty.
Amongst all this argy-bargy, Labor released an interesting document outlining the amount of funding each electorate would receive through the Gonski needs based funding model. It’s worth a look.
A last word - if you have moved in the last few years or if you are unsure whether you are correctly enrolled to vote - get onto it. It’s an easy thing to forget to do but its quick and easy to sort out here.