Tim Blair


New Criterion



Monday, May 10, 2004

Auntie's preferred think-tank, the Australia Institute (described by itself as left-leaning, but not by Auntie today) is now running hard on child care.

Uncle happens to think that improving the quality of early childhood is one of the best cases for policy-makers taking an interest in family life. As usual, the questions are, who's in charge and who pays.

For the Australia Institute and Auntie, the answers are obvious: the state and the tax-payer, respectively.

The Institute has 'discovered' a large sump of need for child-care that parents are unable to fill.

They made this discovery by asking people if their use of child-care was limited by its cost.

Of those answering 'yes' they excluded the ones earning more than about $60 000 pa. These people clearly were not to be believed, and just had the wrong priorities. However, the answers of all of those on 59 000 pa and below were taken at face value.

Ergo, n zillion kids of 'poor' people are being denied the benefits that, we must assume, flow from whatever child care might be made available to them under the Australia Institute's grand plans.

Child-carers must, of course, be paid in proportion to the importance of the work they are doing and the advanced education that it will require to certify them capable of doing it.

Government, preferably the federal government, must pay for it all.

You don't, after all, expect to pay for your kids' schooling, do you?

And look what you get.