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spin & publicity on family/work « Previous | |Next »
July 6, 2003

Anne Manne is right. John Howard promises a lot to help ease the tensions and stresses in the family/work relationhip. Just like water reform, it is all done with lots of fanfare. Then Howard fails to deliver anything of substance.

Anne says:

John Howard has declared the struggle to balance work and family the great Australian "barbecue stopper". His third term began with large promises of reform. It looked like he would set a new family policy agenda. Hopes were raised on paid maternity leave and on new, generous allowances for a child's first year.

Yet the kudos he derives from such policy floats - as a modern and progressive leader - is wildly in excess of actual delivery. Apart from popping up here and there, wiping away a metaphoric tear, making concerned fatherly noises about the struggles of parents with the time crunch, Howard has done very little."

It is spin and publicity to keep the white picket fence voters on side by talking about a compassionate conservatism.

And Anne is spot on with putting her finger on the problem in the work/family relationship.

"The problem is simple enough. Women have long absorbed the vicissitudes of everyday life - the care of the young, the sick and the elderly. By and large they still do. But many also work. Men, too, whether through our enhanced understanding of the importance of fathers, or via women's changed role, are under greater pressure to do more at home.Yet our workplaces, by and large, are still based on the 19th century principle that for every worker there is a wife at home providing a "haven in a heartless world".

The economists have said the market is the solution. Let us create a family market. Buy all the services that the household needs to function well--child care, aged care, nursing, cleaning, laundry and gardening. You name you can buy it and continue with making your career moves by working even longer and harder.

It is not a very successful pathway since only the wealthy can afford that option. And I cannot see work changing. The emphasis is on making people work harder with longer hours, less holidays and more unpaid overtime. That leaves you with a family policy for the white picket fence.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:44 AM | | Comments (0)