Nationals Senator Fiona Nash is spitting chips at Bill Shorten’s “prehistoric language” on childcare. Why, the Leader of the Opposition wants to send us back to the 1950s, surely, with his comment that “men in Australia rely on the women in Australia to do the child care and to organise the childcare”.

“I think Bill Shorten’s disgraceful comments yesterday, saying that men were having to look to their little women to look after childcare, were simply appalling,” said Nash, doubtless clutching her pearls.

Except Shorten did not say “little women”, and it was a statement of fact, not aspiration. The full quote:

“I understand how difficult it is for a working woman, with the kids, trying to work out how on earth does she go to work if 80 per cent of what she’s earning gets eaten up in child care fees? I understand that people are trying to work out, can the, let’s face it, men in Australia rely on the women in Australia to do the child care and to organise the child care. So what I would say to a family sitting on the couch is this — I’ll make sure that it’s easier for both of you to go to work if that’s what you choose to do.”

Women still do two-thirds of household work, and women spend almost twice as many hours caring for children as men do. That needs to change. As Fiona “I’m a girl” Nash knows, increasing money for childcare is about addressing that imbalance, not cementing traditional gender roles. And Malcolm “I’m a feminist” Turnbull should consider doing the same.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey