6 Jun 2004, Comments (0)

Ross, you Bewdy!

Author: Helen

I never thought I’d say this, but I’d like to grab Ross Gittins by the furry face and give him a big, smacking kiss.

Why!? Because of this sentence:

Issues of Public policy don’t come much more important than this.

I’m not a total, hundred percent fan of Gittins. His comment that HECS is no burden to the young because it’s equivalent to the payments on a loan for a new car made me think his name should be shortened to its first three letters. (Hands up all of you who took out a loan for a brand new car in your early twenties?)

But this article is pure gold to me (the bastards at Fairfax will make you register now to read it), because a bloke with a grey beard and a moderate-to-conservative column which focuses on The Economy has come out and said it. Work-and-family and childcare issues are mainstream issues. Not women’s business, to be relegated to somewhere on page 4 of the newspaper or the Lifestyle supplements.

The title is interesting too. “How Men Stuff up Womens’ Lives”? What firebreathing, radical feminist would write something like that? Germs? Anne Summers? No, it’s Ross Gittins. It’s not so easy for antifeminists or rightwingers to come out with the usual “feminazi” or “man-hating” dismissals. After all, he’s a bloke.

All you weary old feminists, read this:

If this budget is about anything more than blatant vote-buying, it’s about helping parents juggle work and family commitments and hoping this will do something to improve fertility.
Issues of public policy don’t come much more important than this. If our fertility rate continues falling – leading eventually to a declining population, with radical implications for our growth-addicted economy – expect a lot more wailing and gnashing of teeth about how few young couples are doing their patriotic duty.

He goes on to explain how “family friendly” work is not some fantasy dreamt up by the fairies at the bottom of the garden, but completely consistent with a healthy economy.

…But the bad deal we’re giving mothers (and fathers who should be doing more of the housework) is denying business full access to women’s skilled labour, limiting the spending power of its customers and setting us up for a contracting domestic market.
This is businesspeople pursuing their self-interest? This is economic rationalists being rational?
I don’t think so.

Whoo-hoo! One small step on the road away from the current madness of humans crushed under the wheel of “the economy” – and towards making “the economy” work for humans.

Pucker up, Bearded one…

Comments (0)

  • Sedgwick says:

    Puck! Wrong beard.

  • cs says:

    Yes; for the puck-challenged among us, two cheers for Ross!

  • David Tiley says:

    Sedge, that is a horrible horrible sight. Our Ross is a bit of a leprechaun. Whats the bet he is short? Men with passions for new cars often are.

  • Gianna says:

    top post Helen.

    i wonder how many professional young partnered women might be encouraged to have babies while still fertile if their workplaces had creches or if there was cheap, well-staffed childcare nearby?

  • Helen says:

    Sedge, that is horrible!! Ptui….

  • Helen says:

    I don’t want to depress you, but the child care situation is hard – really hard. And it is an area where the government really, really has to subsidise. There’s no room for neoliberal ideology and private profitmaking here – but it has been allowed in.
    Did you know Michael Kroger runs a child care centre franchise? Not a name I’d associate with major concern for early childhood development.
    Child care and kindergarten are an extension of a child’s education and deserve funding.

  • Kate says:

    Just to add something on how little children/family issues are a priority to the current policy-makers: childcare workers are also appallingly paid — I had a friend who was made a director of a child care centre at age 25 and was being paid $32 000 a year, after a four year degree specialising in early childhood education, no less. She had to do all the usual tasks and then spend several hours each evening on administration. How reassuring to know that the majority of child-care workers are doing it for the love and not the money!

  • Gianna says:

    i never understand why they can argue that you need to pay big salaries to attract good politicians but not good childcare teachers.

  • Sedgwick says:

    Reinforcing Kate’s point. Number one (and only) daughter’s story is all but identical.

    From a Brunswick council child care centre to a Balmain private centre. Major client demographic change. Very minor financial change.

    Still irked at being viewed by too many, too often as an upmarket babysitter. One of her *favorite* comments, “You’ve got a degree from Melbourne Uni, so why are you working in a child care center?” (I am pleased to report that the questioner will back home after another month or ten’s worth of intensive physiotherapy.)

  • Helen says:


    Yes. I put a question up about this phenomenon on a rather conservative discussion board I sometimes frequent (I’m one of the token lefties they allow in and beat to death.) The line is apparently that it’s easy to get lots of people who want to be [insert worthy and difficult low-paid occupation] and very hard to get people who want to be high flying CEOs. Huh? A job where you get paid squillions even if you stuff up? Why has no-one ever asked me?

  • Helen says:


    With a senior teacher and a child care worker in the family, you have people who are doing more to improve the country than the people who continually revile them or say it’s impossible to pay them properly.

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