The Productivity Commission has recently published a report that confirms Australia’s shortage of childcare across the country. The government has been stuck for solutions, but the poker machine industry has presented some help.
Clubs Australia CEO Anthony Ball has presented a solution that would see pokie clubs across the country providing childcare services to residents. In return, clubs would receive tax breaks from the government. According to a report commission by the McKell Institute, it is a “credible solution to the chronic shortage of affordable social services and infrastructure across Australia”.
The report offers up a number of reasons why the solution is plausible. According to the institute, the clubs are well-positioned to offer childcare because they are connected to extensive community networks and they have large facilities. Despite backing from a recognised institute, the idea remains controversial. Victorian Premier Denis Napthine spoke out against the plan and dismissed that it would ever be a possibility in the state.
Senator Nick Xenophon also voiced his opinions on the plan. He was also dubious of the safety factor in allowing children in gambling venues. Studies have already shown that exposing young people to gambling is likely to lead them to develop compulsive gambling habits later on in life. So, if childcare is introduced, the gaming areas would have to be blocked off, and a number of other safety measures would have to be imposed.
Xenophon has also expressed concerns that it would encourage parents to gamble. He believes that parents may be tempted to play pokies after picking up their children, which would not really benefit the country in the long run.
“I’m deeply sceptical that clubs which have childcare centres won’t use the childcare centres as a marketing ploy for parents to have a gamble at the pokies venues, in which case, seemingly affordable childcare could end up costing parents the earth,” he says.