Paid Parental Leave Scheme – Doorstop, Melbourne
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JENNY MACKLIN: Thanks very much for all being here today, on a Sunday. We’re very pleased that in just a little over two weeks’ time Australia’s first national paid parental leave scheme will start. So from the first of January, Australia will have a national paid parental leave scheme available to around 148,000 prospective parents. This will mean that paid parental leave of $570 a week is available to parents. That will start from the first of January.
JOURNALIST: How do you think it will impact mothers giving birth, particularly in the week leading up to New Year’s? Do you think they will be trying their best to hang on?
JENNY MACKLIN: As a mum myself, I know what every mother wants is a healthy baby and to have a healthy birth herself. We have been in contact with the Royal College of Obstetricians. They have indicated to me that they haven’t had any requests from mothers to delay their births. I think they, like the parents, want to make sure that we have healthy babies born whenever they are deciding to come. The important message to families who are expecting their babies before the first of January is that the Baby Bonus will continue to be available for the vast majority of parents. So parents who are expecting a baby before the first of January can still apply for the Baby Bonus and Family Tax Benefit.
JOURNALIST: So what instructions have you given to the College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians?
JENNY MACKLIN: We’ve been in contact with the College of Obstetricians to make sure that all of their members are informed about the availability of the Baby Bonus. The President of the College of Obstetricians has indicated that they, of course, like parents, want to make sure that healthy babies are born, that mothers are healthy. That’s their primary consideration, as is the Governments.
JOURNALIST: So there will be no provisions for mothers who choose to have, say, an elective caesarean or book in for a caesarean after Jan 1?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well, the number one consideration for the – I’m sure for the mothers, I’m sure for the obstetricians concerned, certainly from my point of view, is that we have healthy mothers and healthy babies. Up until the first of January, the Baby Bonus and Family Tax Benefit will be available. After the first of January, parents will be able to have paid parental leave if they’re eligible, and if they’re not eligible, many of them will still receive the Baby Bonus and Family Tax Benefit.
JOURNALIST: How concerned are you that there might still be a spike, like there was with the Baby Bonus…
JENNY MACKLIN: I don’t think that’s likely, because the Baby Bonus is available, it continues to be available. It’s worth over $5000 and, depending on the number of children you have, you also get extra with Family Tax Benefit.
JOURNALIST: It’s expected to cost $1.5 billion in the first year…
JENNY MACKLIN: No, not in the first year…
JOURNALIST: Oh, not in the first year?
JENNY MACKLIN: … it’s over four years.
JOURNALIST: Over four years.
JOURNALIST: So do you think that that’s kind of a steady figure or will we see that go up?
JENNY MACKLIN: We have budgeted for the paid parental leave. We know that it will cost around $260 million a year. That is, of course, going to be indexed to make sure that the Federal Minimum Wage keeps up with the cost of living, but that is in our forward budgets.
JOURNALIST: Can I just clarify some of those figures with you?
JENNY MACKLIN: Sure.
JOURNALIST: They were saying that there was 150… [inaudible]
Yeah, sure. Yeah, that there was going to be 148,000 families expected to claim in the first…
JENNY MACKLIN: Eligible.
JOURNALIST: Eligible in the first year…
JENNY MACKLIN: Yes, that’s right.
JOURNALIST: … at $10,000, totalling…
JENNY MACKLIN: Well, that’s – but that’s before tax. So it really depends on your taxable income. And some mothers, depending on the number of children they have, will get a reasonable amount from Family Tax Benefit. So it’s impossible for me to say what everybody’s situation is going to be. So paid parental leave is $570 a week before tax; the Baby Bonus is $5300, just under, a year – well, we pay that in 13 fortnightly instalments; and then, on top of that, if you’re a single income family, you’ll be eligible for Family Tax Benefit part B. If you’re on paid parental leave, you won’t get part B. So that’s why. In the end it really – it is complicated…
JENNY MACKLIN: But it’s – we’ve got an online estimator, and the parents I’ve spoken to have actually found it quite easy. They just put their income in, their husband’s income in, how much leave they’re going to take, all those sorts of things and seem to be able to figure it out.
JOURNALIST: …say, 150,000 families by 10 grand, that’s $1.5 billion in the first year, but you’re saying that that’s actually going to be stretched over four years.
JENNY MACKLIN: Yep, that’s right. It’s $260 million a year.
JOURNALIST: $260 million a year.
JENNY MACKLIN: Yeah, yep.
JOURNALIST: Okay. But it’s fair to say that there’s 150…
JENNY MACKLIN: 148.
JENNY MACKLIN: Yeah.
JOURNALIST: Nearly 150,000 families…
JENNY MACKLIN: They may not all…
JOURNALIST: … eligible.
JENNY MACKLIN: They may not all claim. For some of them they might find it’s better – they’re better off taking the Baby Bonus and FTB Part B. So they’ll have to do those sums themselves.
JOURNALIST: They’ve estimated for women who earn up to $150,000 a year?
JENNY MACKLIN: Yeah, it’s actually the primary carer, but it’s largely going to be the mother, that’s right. So that’s the income test, and then the work test is that you have to have worked around a day a week for the 10 months prior to the baby coming along.