‘Playing devil’s advocate, or just a dick?’
A DISCUSSION about conditions for childcare workers on The Project last night quickly turned heated, as co-host Hamish Macdonald clashed with the segment's guest.
After a Carrie Bickmore-presented story about the relatively low wages for those in the childcare sector, Stellar magazine editor (and Newscorp employee) Sarrah Le Marquand appeared via satellite, arguing the case for more taxpayer funding of the industry.
"But Sarrah, hang on. Why should I have to pay for that? I'm happy to pay for other people's health care or education. I just fail to see why if you choose to have another kid, I should pay more for their childcare," said Macdonald.
Le Marquand asked the host why he made the distinction between paying taxes for education and healthcare and not for "one of the most important jobs in the world".
"Sarrah, as you pointed out,[child to childcare worker]ratios have shifted in recent years, which has made this a more costly sector for us to support. I just don't understand why I should pay more of my money so these children can have one-to-four ratio care arrangements?" he asked.
Le Marquand conceded that there might be opportunities for savings in the childcare sector, before Macdonald cut her off:
"So let's have that conversation first, before you ask me for more of my money."
Le Marquand then argued that childcare is "a collective responsibility, not some sort of luxury for rich parents. All parents should have that right".
Wrapping the interview up, Bickmore cut the tension with a joke: "I've got an awesome idea. We've got at least six kids between us. Let's send them [Hamish's] way, and see how the ratio goes."
"Yeah ... that is a crazy idea," noted Le Marquand, raising an eyebrow.
After the break, Bickmore read out some early viewer feedback that had flooded in about the segment - and while she said many had agreed with Macdonald's stance, she paid special attention to one viewer who asked: "Is Hamish playing devil's advocate or is he just a dick?"
Viewers on social media were just as divided, with one tweeting they'd "never seen Hamish so vitriolic and angry in an interview" while others praised him for asking tough questions:
Hamish those kids might be looking after you in a few decades so help educate them too please #TheProjectTV— Eileen Viti Purchase (@VitiEileen) March 27, 2018
HAmish MacDonald shame on him he is showing his absolute ignorance about why the ratios were reduced in early childhood education Check your facts & research about what quality ECE is about it is the foundation of education & good outcomes #TheProjectTV— Liz Brown (@lizoluwi) March 27, 2018
Macdonald somewhat softened his approach after the interview had wrapped, telling his fellow panellists: "Of course they should get paid more, I just think we need to have a proper conversation about it. And I don't hate kids!"