When the former Howard Government decided that what Australia needed was more babies because the population was aging, it created many problems. Australia was just one of the developed countries where birth rates had declined.
Howard’s Federal Treasurer, turned author, Peter Costello, asked women to have one extra child for Australia. At the time, this request made me feel uneasy because it smacked of Hiltler’s medals for babies policy. Germany wanted more Aryans to rule the world and it did not want foreigners to increase the population. So patriotic German women were praised and rewarded for producing babies. There were even factories set up where SS officers could impregnate suitable wombs.
That is Eugenics at its worst, I guess, but what Costello was proposing had a tinge of that because money was to be paid to women to have babies. It was called the baby bonus and it achieved what Costello had wanted. There were babies everywhere. Pregnant women were sporting big tummies in spandex outfits and suddenly one could not venture into a shopping mall without being accosted by screaming mothers, toddlers, and strollers blocking the traffic.
Suddenly, there weren’t enough creches for the growing baby population and the latest news in Victoria, and this must be happening all over Australia too, is that maternity departments in hospitals just can’t cope with the increase.
What a surprise! You bribe women, particularly women of a certain socio-economic group whose job prospects are limited by offering them more cash than they’d ever seen, and they will be open to the suggestion. Who can blame them?
It’s no msnomer that this bonus is called the “plasma bonus”. $3,000 and now $5,000 for every baby! Just enough to buy a new flat screen TV set.
This growth in the birth rate will lead to a growth in demand for social services, baby bonus and child support. There will have to be more schools and kindergartens and it will be twenty years before any of these babies will be productive members of society. That’s if they ever will if you look at the current crop of adultescents.
There is also the problem of paid maternity leave which impacts on small businesses and is actually quite detrimental to a female’s chances of promotion. Who wants to employ a woman who will be absent for several years and yet can’t be replaced?
There had been a substantial growth in ridiculous baby wear shops and baby furniture that costs a packet. Buying the labels has become a status symbol among the older IVF mothers who have finally achieved pregnancy and can substitute their poodles for a real live crying baby.
The result of all this bribery is that Costello got what he wanted. Never mind that hospitals can’t cope. Never mind the shortage of creches where these new mothers can dump the babies after receiving the baby bonus. Never mind the shortage of trained staff in these dumping grounds or in the schools that will have to cater to the plasma kids.
Never mind that so many children are being born into homes that have no father. After all, you can always borrow a bit of sperm from a friend.
So what would I have done? Well, I would have invited more migrants from certain areas to immigrate to Australia. A growth in immigration inevitably leads to an increase in the economy and would do wonders for our flagging housing industry and retail market in more things than baby clothes. The migrants would have become productive much sooner than the plasma kids.
We need skilled migrants. We need them now and producing more babies is not going to solve our current deficit.