There’s no doubt families are a huge battleground in politics and its one, by his own admission, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has been a little late to.
But not anymore, he says. With a paid parental leave policy and a new announcement about funding nannies for working families, he’s making a pitch for families and in particular women.
So, we asked you to ask him the questions that sprang to mind regarding child care, nannies, parental leave and education. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: It seems to be a pretty hot topic among women this week. Can you explain where the idea to fund nannies came from?
A: My thinking on child care and paid parental leave has evolved over time, starting while we were still in government. For example, the first article I wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald in early 2006 after they gave me a weekly column was about the urgent necessity for a parliamentary child care centre.
It’s very important to ensure that women have every chance to be a part of the economy. It’s important that to harness the economic potential of women and that means having a decent child care system.
Existing child care services do not always meet the needs of parents, particularly shift workers. Australia is no longer a 9am-5pm economy and our child care system should reflect that.
In-home care is one of the ways in which we could be more flexible. There are a lot of parents doing shift work with very young children and this may well be a better option for them.
But this is not just about in-home care. The Productivity Commission review that I have committed to would consider all the current impediments to a family friendly child care system, including the role businesses can play in incorporating greater flexibility into their own workplaces. It would consider how parents can better access existing services including long day care, occasional care, family care and budget based care.