Free childcare was one of the goals of second wave feminism, when we took up the cause of gender equity in the 70s. It seemed logical, because children need access to other children and expert care to develop the skills that parents can’t provide, and allowed particularly mothers, as the primary carer, time for paid work and other activities. After all, child rearing was not intended to be the sole responsibility of parents but a community: “it takes a village to rear a child”.
There’s a big benefit for the government by the reduction in the numbers of unemployed on jobkeeker payments. Low-paid female workers are likely to remain in their vital jobs, as will others who are still employed.
This brief glimpse of free care will raise expectations that are unlikely to be met when these one-offs are withdrawn.
Maybe the brief experience of thousands of users of the temporary model will create the demand for a serious revolution in this (and other) community services.