Some of Barnaby Joyce’s closest political allies sparked heated debate about the government’s proposed early childhood education and care package in a Coalition party room meeting on Tuesday and were accused of “mansplaining” and criticising working mothers for “outsourcing parenting”.
In the meeting, the first chaired by Barnaby Joyce since his return to the deputy prime ministership this week, Nationals senator Matt Canavan, Nationals MP George Christensen and Liberal senator Gerard Rennick, voiced concerns about the $1.7 billion package that was announced in last month’s budget.
According to reports, Canavan told the party room he would not offer his support for the childcare package unless support was also provided for stay-at-home parents.
The comments came after Education Minister Alan Tudge spoke about the government’s proposed increase to the childcare subsidy for families with more than one child in early childhood education and care, and lifting the cap on subsidies for higher income families. The changes were one of the main elements of the women’s economic security package put forward in the 2021 budget, aimed at appeasing Australian women in the aftermath of 2020’s budget that was said to have failed women.
It was reported that George Christensen, the Nationals MP, said that parents who use childcare services are “outsourcing parenting” – a sentiment that angered many female MPs who were also in the meeting.
Can I just check it’s still cool for working dads (eg Basically Every Man in the Coalition Party Room) to “outsource parenting”? https://t.co/o3QO1ndybb— Georgie Dent (@georgiedent) June 22, 2021
Female Liberals including Celia Hammond, Hollie Hughes, Katie Allen, Perin Davey and Jane Hume apparently spoke up in favour of the childcare package, arguing back that it was about creating equal opportunity and making it easier for women to work.
Hume, the Minister for Women’s Economic Security, told the room about a study released last year that showed 100,000 parents were not working because of the expense of childcare.
Hollie Hughes is said to have told off her male colleagues for “mansplaining” about how women should parent.
After the event, Labor’s spokesperson for Early Childhood Education Amanda Rishworth wrote on Twitter that the fact this debate happened at all in the Coalition party room “beggars belief”.
“So.. today.. in 2021.. a member of the Morrison Joyce Government shamed Australian women for using child care,” Rishworth wrote. “They reportedly labelled it ‘outsourcing parenting’. It just beggars belief.”
Which funnily enough is what almost every male politician with children in Australia’s history has done for eons and apparently it’s all cool!— Georgie Dent (@georgiedent) June 22, 2021
The proposed childcare changes are expected to be put to parliament on Thursday.