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Sorry Senator: It IS the job of people without kids to subsidise child care.

Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm has questioned whether taxpayers without children should have the responsibility of supporting those with children.

Dear Senator Leyonhjelm,

I thought of you today as I dropped my daughter off to pre-school and headed off to work with my two older children in tow. I write this to you now while they buzz about my feet on the last day of school holidays. There were no places at holiday care, you see, so here we are, trying to get through a day as a working parent.

And I thought you might appreciate my view on your suggestion that taxpayers shouldn’t be funding the child care rebate. Because I have a view. A strong one.

Why should the childless prop up this?

The background for those eavesdropping into this piece of personal correspondence between myself and the Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm is an interview he gave to Fairfax Media in which he questioned the responsibility of people without children support those with children. 

The Senator said that having children is a personal choice that shouldn’t be subsidised – in particular by increases to the child care rebate, which he plans to block in the Senate.

Senator Leyonhjelm said Australians who did not have children were being increasingly taxed to support the choices of others. “A lot of people don’t have children,” he said. “A lot of people have children who have grown up and moved on. There’s no good argument that all of those people should subsidize people who do have children.”

More: Australian MP insults thousands of women with child care comments.

Unfortunately, Senator, you are wrong. In fact, there aren’t that many good reasons why people without children SHOULDN’T support people with children.

Senator David Leyonhjelm

Well, actually, you are right in at least one respect. None of us HAD to have children, did we?

But imagine a society without those of us parents who are willing to take the risk of exposing ourselves to the terrible twos and tantrums, endless ferrying to and from birthday parties and the eternal question “can-I-have-a?”….

If it was purely a financial argument, there actually isn’t much incentive to be a parent, I can assure you, Senator. Have the seen the price of those in-app purchases? Have you read about how the humble Freddo Frog has nearly halved in size yet stayed the same price?  Have you ever been shopping in Woollies when the Dominos promotion is on?

There are no fiscal benefits in having kids.

But I will let you in on a secret. We don’t do it for the cash.

It’s tricky to explain what the actual incentive is, and on days like today when it is blowing a gale out and two bored under-eights are tearing each other apart, you certainly question whether or not you did the right thing.

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But there is no doubt that when we go through the rigours of parenthood, it benefits the rest of you lucky blighters who aren’t having to negotiate whose turn it is on the Wii.

We know from research that children having access to quality early childhood education and care result in: better school success; a decreased crime rate; less substance abuse and increased long-term employment.

And undoubtedly, you are aware of the way in which good quality affordable child care boosts productivity, how much value society gets out of increasing female participation in the workforce and what a crucial link there is between women’s participation in the workforce and gross national product. And of course, more people working means there are more tax payers, to increase the government coffers – and more money in superannuation, which decreases pressure on the public purse.

The key here is good quality child care – Senator, I’m sure you know that none of this can be achieved without it.

Surely the Senator recognises the link between female participation in the workforce and GNP.

Your overarching philosophy that the government should get its nose out of people’s lives has its merits, but its simply not true that you yourself haven’t benefited (or won’t continue to benefit) from the rest of us having children.

On a more personal note, there is no doubt that in your life been you’ve also been the recipient of taxpayer subsidies for the ‘personal lifestyle choices’ you’ve made. And we don’t begrudge you any of those benefits – like that veterinary science degree you completed, the roads you drive on, the glass of red you enjoy on an occasional basis, the very health care system that keeps you well enough to function as a representative of the people. We’re happy to subsidise those things for you.

And our children – those snotty nosed little tykes who are the reason why we working mothers need good quality childcare – may very well grow up to build the roads you drive on, to pour the wine you drink and to work as veterinarians for the animals you love. They’ll certainly become responsible and well educated citizens who pay their taxes, because they had a strong start with their education and care. Heck, they may even be the ones voting you back in to Senate.

So to answer your question Senator: why should people without children subsidise child care rebates for working women with children?  Because that’s how a well-functioning democracy works, and that’s how our country will grow and prosper in the future.

And that’s something we can all agree on.

Yours sincerely –

Shauna

What do you think of the Senator’s comments?

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