Two Australian stories this week indicate some shifts in political thinking about balancing career and family life:
POLITICIANS have finally won their campaign to have a childcare centre in Parliament House, just as federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward has declared the nation’s childcare system a “mess”.
Ms Goward has called on Treasurer Peter Costello to launch an investigation to find out why a “market failure” was depriving families of places.
Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward has urged changes to the tax system to help families where both parents work part-time.
Ms Goward says under the present scheme, stay-at-home parents are entitled to advantages from family tax benefit B.
But she says that should be broadened to include families where both parents work some of the time.
“If family tax benefit B were changed from being one full time and one not in the work force, to one full-time equivalent parent, that would make that family entitled to it,” she said.
“Because then I think you would see families where the man wasn’t working 40, 50, 60 hours a week to enable her to stay home to get family tax benefit B, and it would be possible for them both to keep their toe-hold in the work force.”
It is encouraging to see some thought given to on-site childcare by Parliament: it makes it more likely that other businesses will pick up on the precedent eventually. And I really like the idea of changing the Family Benefit B calculation to one fulltime equivalent parent instead of one fulltime and one stay-at-home. There’s a real chance there to cut back on the salary/promotion/superannuation sacrifice that motherhood involves to make for more career parity between couples.
For contrast and for those wishing to be childfree or at least not add to the family they have: a terrific post over at Pharyngula, where PZ Myers presents the basics of how emergency contraception works by blocking ovulation, having no effect on a fertilised ovum and thus not being an abortifacient despite the claims of some fundamentalists.
If you’ve never been quite sure about ovulation and the hormonal regulation thereof, it’s a lovely clear summary. The comments thread is even better reading than the post.