Conrad Liveris

Childcare: Gaming clubs are no child’s play

Gambling childcare
Image: AFP/Jayne Andd

Lack of childcare may keep parents out of work longer than they might choose, but gaming clubs offering care for our kids while we play the pokies? No, says Conrad Liveris, hell no.

There are few issues that frustrate Australian businesses and working mothers more than childcare. Clubs Australia has a solution for us, albeit one steeped in moral curiosity.

The Productivity Commission is currently undertaking an inquiry into childcare and the breadth of issues that plague the industry. To the surprise of many, the peak body for gaming and gambling has penned a submission, led by Executive Director Anthony Ball.

Ball has rightly noted that the clubs are adequately situated with the capital base to pursue the measure – in exchange for tax breaks.

It sounds like a convenient solution. However, this is an ethical dilemma like no other.

Businesses and women’s organisations are united in their pursuit to increase access to childcare. However, do we really want children being cared for in gambling institutions? I would not want my own children to spend time in such a place.

The policy idea could potentially solve the gap in Sydney and Melbourne, but would not be viable for every working parent.

Perth has very few gaming clubs, but suffers one of the most chronic childcare challenges. With only two childcare centres in the CBD, women are at odds with one another in securing a place.

The Chief Justice of Western Australia in the 1980s, Sir Francis Burt, used to tell the rising number of women admitted to the legal profession that they need not worry about childcare, because any reasonable firm would incorporate crèches into their offices.

Burt’s premonition was not delivered by the firms. Too bad Perth lacks the gaming premises, I guess.

Filling gaps in the childcare industry is becoming a national priority, which is one of the reasons for the Commission’s interest.

I ask those who would consider this idea reasonable: do you want your children to see people at their most desperate and depraved?

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