"Australian working families". I do not know who first coined that phrase but I would happily strangle that person. Why do we need to be told that "this is being done for Australian working families"? Are there no other Australians worthy of mention?
I queried a politician of my acquaintance about this yesterday. He seemed surprised I should even question it. He told me the most important group of people in the community is the family unit. I agree. I do not have a problem with that.
Can we not just leave it at "families"? No. It has to be "Australian" (nothing else counts) and it has to be "working" (taxpayer) families. Oh and by "working" they mean both parents, not just one. One income families are apparently not considered "normal" or even desirable.
I know a number of one income families. Some have children with disabilities and have not been able to access the care they would need for both parents to work. Another needs to be available to care for her own parents and her husband's parents. Another feels her husband's income is more than adequate to cover household expenses so they agreed she would not do paid work. Two decided that bringing up the children with a stay-at-home Mum was more important. All of them do some voluntary work. They work at that. They contribute to the community. None of them are wealthy. They manage financially. Those with children who have disabilities are struggling financially but the others say they are 'comfortable enough' and that other things are more important. The phrase "Australian working families" irritates them too. They feel they are being ignored, that their contribution does not count, that they are somehow seen as 'not pulling their weight'.
I think that is wrong. They do contribute. I do not know what percentage of the local families are single income. It would be low. This is an area largely composed of older people on limited incomes and families on two incomes. It gets even more interesting when the number of older who people who still work get taken into consideration. They do not get paid for this work and they do not volunteer to do it. It is expected of them. Yes, they look after the children of the working parents. Ask them why they do it and they shrug. They have no choice. It is expected of them. Some do all day care, other do the school run and some even do both. They still run a car with all the associated costs. They feed the children and entertain them during school holidays. There is no retirement for them. They would like to pursue other activities but say they will have to wait until their grandchildren have grown up. It was not what they had planned but they accept it as inevitable.
If we are going to talk about "Australian working families" then I think we need to think about what the phrase really means. Who contributes? Who benefits?
One thing I am sure of is that it means much more than "the working Mum, working Dad and the kids" politicians would have us believe it means.