Published by the Faculty of Business, Government and Law, University of Canberra


Research and Stories through a Gendered Lens

BroadAgenda Wraps the Week: Childcare catastrophe and JA’s ‘little dance’

Jun 12, 2020 | News

Just what sort of tin ear does this government have? Monday’s announcement by Education Minister Dan Tehan that childcare fees were to be reintroduced sooner than expected and childcare workers are the first to be pulled off JobKeeper – so the nation can ‘snap back’ to one of the most unsatisfactory childcare schemes in the OECD – left most of us drop-jawed. Are they kidding?

Apparently not.

Not only was the decision further evidence this government is not listening to the experience or expertise of women, it also sent a clear signal about the Morrison government’s world view: a message delivered with patriarchal punch.

The decision sent a clear signal about the Morrison government’s world view: a message delivered with patriarchal punch.

Only days after the government delivered a $688 million support scheme for the construction industry – and its 82% male workforce – if we were in any doubt as to what that message was, Liberal Senator Gerard Rennick reminded us. Watch his little back to the future riff in the House.


Whilst yet to really penetrate the mainstream, there have been some solid media responses to the childcare debacle. Some of our favourites are listed on this week’s Gender News including a detailed, evidence-based checklist by Richard Dennis:

“Not only have women been hardest hit by the response to Covid-19, they have got the least out of government assistance and stimulus packages. Monday’s announcement that the temporary provision of free childcare is about to end was just the latest in a long line of policy choices – made by the male prime minister, male treasurer and male finance minister – that weigh heavily on women in the Australian labour market.”

The 50/50 Foundation’s Co-Director Trish Bergin joined Professor Barbara Pocock on ANU’s Democracy Sausage podcast for an excellent backgrounder to the broader femenomics of the COVID impact (and, yes, I kept our dog Vincent quiet while that recording took place in our kitchen). Earlier this week Trish also featured with Francis Crimmins from the YWCA on ABC radio (Francis begins at 1.14.00 and Trish at 1.21.50)

Our newest recruit at the 50/50 Foundation, Associate Professor Chris Wallace penned a powerful unpacking of the value system that is informing current government decisions. Published both on BroadAgenda and The Conversation, I urge you to read it! 

“If you want to understand what a government is about, look at where it puts its money rather than listening to what it says. The government’s pandemic spending decisions show it wants women back in the kitchen, weak universities, and wondrous home renovations for the already well-off.”

Chris’s piece also argues the case for increasing the number of women in parliament: most importantly – conservative women.

110620 coalition women

Back in March Professor Kim Rubenstein and Trish Bergin were quick to call out the lack of women at a national level when the PM announced only two women to join 10 people around the the COVID-19 Coordination Commission table. This week a global report by Care International shows we’re not alone. Sadly. The survey across 30 countries found women make up only 24 percent of national response committees.

But what about the Immaculate Virgin Mother herself, Jacinda Ardern? (I say that lovingly!) We all know NZ has long outpaced Australia with its gender diversity in political leadership. But will the “most effective leader on the planet” survive her own election? There are no guarantees and “two schools of thought”.

120620 jacinda ardern meme little dance 2Well, in these bleak times, here’s something to gee-up a depressed electorate – and the rest of us! It’s my dream virtual person. Hugh Grant’s bottom and Jacinda’s brain! (click the video below)

It’s my dream virtual person. Hugh Grant’s bottom and Jacinda’s brain!

Just when I made you smile, something to wipe it away. My apologies. But if I could do anything to change our lexicon, I would abolish the term ‘honour killing’. There is no honour in murder, torture, beheading, burning, suffocating or starving to death. But fathers and brothers across the globe still disagree, as we saw reported in Iran this week. The father of 14-year-old Romina even checked with a lawyer first before he sliced the head off his daughter.

The father of 14-year-old Romina even checked with a lawyer first before he sliced the head off his daughter.

Back home, the shocking rate of murders in our own homes, which are also empowered by a viciously poisonous cocktail of honour and a belief in the right to own and control, is similarly whitewashed by the language of ‘domestic violence’.  That said, the recent NSW Supreme Court ruling which can make an employer held responsible for ‘family violence’ will help strengthen public attention.

On terminology, one of the world’s most celebrated wordsmiths, JK Rowling certianly minced her words over transgender women this week. Thing is, there is perhaps no one alive who understands the power of words as much as she does. Did she set out to offend and belittle? I doubt it. And will her claims of a ‘complex life’ due to being a survivor of sexual abuse fix the hurt she has caused? I doubt that too.

Now, to end on some exciting news! We’re just about start recording a brand-new podcast, BroadTalk. And I can’t wait to get near that microphone! The first series is on ‘New Leadership: About Leaders, By Leaders, For Leaders’. We kick off next week with the Minister for Women (and Foreign Minister) Marise Payne, followed by a woman in the global COVID hot-seat right now, Jane Halton, and plenty more exceptional men and women to follow. BroadTalk will be live online in a few weeks – stay tuned!

Meantime, Julie has curated an excellent selection of articles, news and views in Gender News to keep BroadAgenda brains busy. Share it around!

And while you’re at it, encourage all your favourite broads and blokes to hop on and subscribe – it puts a smile on our dial!

Have a peaceful, calm and joyful weekend.

Happy reading friends!



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