If I Became Australia's Next Prime Minister
by Beverley Paine
If I became Prime Minister, I'd give every family enough money to be able to have one parent stay home full time and chose to spend the money on institutional child-care and education or home based child care and education. Because we, as a nation, can afford it. Ditch the dozens of benefits and payments and just have one decent parenting payment.
As the money for this government expenditure comes from everyone, not just families, I'd want some accountability built in, which means rules and regulations that we can argue about endlessly. No income or assets test though.
I don't like income and assets tests because they are arbitrary and tend to discriminate. You only have to be one dollar above the limit and you don't get the benefit. This has the undesired effect of encouraging people to stay below the limit because there is a grey area where you are actually better off. I've seen too many people hold themselves back from earning extra income worried they'll lose the health care card. Not having a health care card costs me hundreds of dollars a year, for example. Not enough to claim the tax rebate on health expenses, mind you. It just makes you think twice about those few hours of paid work each week you could get... I believe that asset and income testing encourages the perpetuation in society of class division.
Children are children whether their parents are rich or poor, working or not working. I think our society can afford to invest in children, all children.
I recon it's high time that our society recognised that parenting is THE most important job.
This takes more than throwing money at the job: it means creating a societal atmosphere that values children as much more than products or consumers.
And I'd stop producing documents that call adults between the age of 18 and 24 dependents.
I'd establish life-long learning centres everywhere for all age groups. I'd change the way child-care centres, schools, colleges and unis are set up: I'd open them up to everyone. I'd abolish age limits. Everyone helping everyone learn, learning what they want and need to when they want and need to learn it. True learning cooperatives!
I'd let people work when they are capable and want to, not be limited by particular ages.
I'd make sure that the social disincentives for being a nasty or greedy person were compelling enough to make people think twice about being mean to others.
Good thing I'm not interested in going into politics, eh?
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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