MP slams ‘misogynist’ senator over mums stay at home comment
A Townsville MP has stopped shy of calling Senator Gerard Rennick a misogynist, after he insisted the best place for children was at home, not childcare.
The Liberal senator sparked outrage by citing Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz in a speech to parliament on Wednesday where he called for children to remain at home until at least three years of age.
"If you can keep a child at home … and you can keep a parent at home … you'll halve congestion, halve pollution and increase the quality of life for the children and their parents," he said.
"Dorothy didn't tap her shoes together and say there's no place like childcare. She said there's no place like home."
Parenthood, Australia's leading parenting advocacy organisation has been campaigning to have the entire sector undergo a funding remodel.
Campaign Manager Georgie Dent said the remarks were completely out of touch with reality.
"I'm actually really at a loss for words, Senator Rennick's remarks are incredibly disappointing but I suppose they're not really surprising," Ms Dent said.
"It is completely out of line with what we know from empirical research."
Ms Dent said Senator Rennick's comments were unhelpful for breaking down historical gender roles which led to women disadvantage later in life.
She added that given the cost of living, it was unrealistic to expect families to survive on a single income.
"It's really concerning because we know the reality of women's financial security and futures, that women over 55 are the fastest growing group of homeless people in Australia,"
"And the reason for that is because of them having breaks from the paid workforce because of caring responsibilities.
"Anything that makes it more difficult for women to stay attached to paid work has the effect of entrenching disadvantage and making poverty a more likely outcome for women."
Drawing on widely reported data that women accept lower paying jobs and pass on promotions to take up majority of the caring responsibilities, Mundingburra MP Coralee O'Rourke said these comments highlighted the little value Senator Rennick placed on having women in the workplace.
"Hearing LNP Senator Rennick make these remarks during parliament shows how little he or his party values women in the workplace," she said.
"I know from experience the more diverse any workplace the better it often is as there are a range of people with different experiences, opinions and ideas that each contribute in different ways."
"Everyone has the right to work and should have every opportunity available to them to do so in whatever capacity they choose."
Ms O'Rourke, who worked in early education prior to joining politics, said the senator's comments contradicted scientific evidence that early education sets children up for lifelong learning.
She said the notion that children should be at home instead of accessing early childcare was an insult to working parents.
"To make such a comment just goes to show what little value he places on the early years education and care sector and the benefits it can bring to those who utilise it," she said.
"Having worked in the sector I know the benefits associated with having access to quality early years education and care for children," she said.
"And there is a significant amount of research and evidence out there to support that."
Labor's childcare spokeswoman Amanda Rishworth tweeted a clip of his comments on Thursday, noting: "We're not in Kansas anymore."
Originally published as Townsville MP slams 'misogynist' Senator