The childcare industry has been tossed like an old toy with coronavirus
The childcare industry has been tossed like an old toy with coronavirus

OUR SAY: Childcare flip-flop not on

THERE has always been an element of policy on the run about our government's response to the coronavirus.

Mostly, it's worked well, and the public health lockdowns have allowed us into a position where we are nearly free of the disease, although someone forgot to carry the $60b when working out Jobkeeper. It happens, I guess.

But there have been many sectors that seemingly received little attention. For nearly a month the childcare industry wasn't uttered by the prime minister in his chatty talks to a nation, and as everyone locked down, so did the businesses.

Finally, a rescue package arrived, but instead of bolstering the sector, threw it even further into chaos. Free childcare for all, but at the cost of the provider, who now had to provide equivalent work for half the money.

Finally, when Jobkeeper kicked in, they had to find the first month's often inflated wages in advance, and put their head above water.

After the chaos, you could be forgiven for thinking that workers, and users of childcare finally had some certainty.

Wrong. Just four days after guaranteeing there would be no changes to the Jobkeeper program, the government announced it was going to be axed for childcare workers. Noone else, just childcare workers.

And while we might turn a blind-eye, one can't help feel the coincidence of the timing, where the industry who is predominantly staffed by women gets thrown to the economic wolves first, while the industry predominantly staffed by men - the building sector - gets another big boost in a plan that has already raised the eyebrows of many.

It's seemed like it's almost a deliberate ploy to disadvantage the group who had been on the frontline of having public contact while everyone else locked down. That's not new either. More than 70 per cent of nurses and teachers are women, and they too got a nice thanks for nothing in the state government's decision to override a hard-fought pay rise.

It is policy on the run, and while the government can say they'll provide other rescue packages, where was the planning? Where was the notice?

More importantly, the workers who were entitled to receive the $1500 Jobkeeper payment and trusted their prime minister that it would continue to September, what happens to their budget? Weren't they entitled to go out and spend that money and stimulate the economy?

Not anymore. There has been some good policy, but this smacks of policy on the run that, as usual, disadvantages one half of society that is sadly used to it.