2 words every parent wants Tony Abbott to say today.

When the Prime Minister stands up at 12.30pm today to deliver his much anticipated make or break National Press Club address there are two words every parent would like to hear him say: Child. Care.

Parents want to hear him announce that the federal government is going to redirect billions of dollars from the failed proposed paid parental leave scheme into the child care system for the one million families that utilise it every year.

They would like him to say that if anything is going to be “rolled gold” it should be the system that has been medically proven to benefit our children and helps parents for up to five years – not just six months.

The Prime Minister’s office has confirmed he is going to co-announce a “families package” and the postponement of his signature paid parental leave scheme today.

The long awaited families package is the result of the Productivity Commission (PC) into Early Learning conducted by the federal government in 2014.

Read more: The draft recommendations of the productivity child care report are out.

Last year the PC recommended significantly paring back the Abbott PPL scheme and redirecting the money into childcare – to improve the system and get the best bang for government buck.

The PC said the money for the PPL scheme would be better spent on our childcare system because the policy “would have few incremental labour supply benefits.”

Getting rid of the PPL scheme is good policy – but only if the money is redirected to the child care budget.

Today should be a historic day for Australia. A day parents remember. A day we could all be proud of.


But there is only one story today – Tony Abbott’s leadership.

Read more: Could the PM be One Term Tony?

The truth is that multiple factors, including the Queensland election, have made it terminal and any announcement made today will likely be dumped and then re-made and re-hashed by his successor.

This is so very sad for Australia, for parents and for our children aged five and under. A high quality early learning system would benefit all Australians because it helps to prepare our children for school and give them the very best start in life. The PC process announced by Tony Abbott was a once in generation opportunity to reform the early learning system in Australia. Today I fear that opportunity will be lost.

Because today instead we will talk about leadership. Anything positive that is announced for child care will be lost in the leadership haze.

It should not have been this way. Tony Abbott had every opportunity to announce he was delaying the PPL scheme for the last four years – a scheme he was NEVER going to be able to deliver. But he didn’t.

Read more: Tony Abbott isx about to dump his “signature” paid parental leave policy.

Now he has left it far too late. His leadership is in trouble and he does not even have the chance to turn his failed PPL policy mistake into a political opportunity. It was politics 101 and he completely blew it.

Instead once again the parents, the child care educators and the children will pay the price of waiting for another government, another inquiry, another leadership tussle before they get what they deserve – a high quality early learning experience.