Paid Parental Leave Scheme, Wild Rivers
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JENNY MACKLIN: Thanks everyone for joining us here at this terrific Baby Show in Sydney today. I’m really thrilled to be able to announce that from today parents are going to be able to start applying for Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave Scheme. Paid parental leave, the national Paid Parental Leave Scheme will start on the 1st January next year for babies born or adopted from that date. What we’ve done is made sure that we can make it that little bit easier for parents so they can get the paperwork done in advance of their baby coming. So from today they can either go on line, come here to this stall, pick up the application forms, or go into their local Medicare or Centrelink office to get the forms so that they can make sure that they’re ready to get paid parental leave when it starts on the 1st January next year.
JOURNALIST: What are parents entitled to?
JENNY MACKLIN: If parents are eligible they will be entitled to eighteen weeks of paid parental leave paid at the federal minimum wage which is around $570 a week.
JOURNALIST: A significant number of people will already have maternity leave at least, who do you imagine this is going to capture?
JENNY MACKLIN: This is really aimed at supporting those parents who currently don’t have access to employer funded paid parental leave so casuals, part-timers, the self-employed, contractors. We expect those mums and dads to be the big beneficiaries of this first national Paid Parental Leave Scheme. But of course, if you have paid parental leave from your employer, you’ll be able to add that to the Government’s scheme. So you’ll be able the have the Government’s eighteen weeks of paid parental leave and then the employer scheme on top.
JOURNALIST: Who is eligible for this?
JENNY MACKLIN: If you’ve been working for around a day a week for ten months of the thirteen months before your baby comes along, you’ll be eligible. There’s also an income test on the mother’s wage, on the primary carer, usually the mother, of $150,000 a year.
JOURNALIST: And how’s it being funded?
JENNY MACKLIN: It will be funded by the Government.
JOURNALIST: And what about those families, especially those that you say are self employed and those that are dual income families. Eighteen weeks of the minimum wage, that’s not really enough to get by is it?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well the important thing is to recognise that for thousands and thousands of families they have no access to paid parental leave at the moment. For the first time Australia will catch up with the rest of the developed world and provide a national Government funded Paid Parental Leave Scheme. It will make sure that for many, many families they’ll now get the critical support they need when their baby first comes into their family.
JOURNALIST: Minister, 100 days since the Prime Minister took office from the Labor Party (inaudible) still be mourning the demise of Kevin Rudd, is this a happy or sad day?
JENNY MACKLIN: This is a very happy day because we’re announcing that from today people can apply for paid parental leave. It’s a Labor Government that’s introduced paid parental leave to Australia. Mr Abbott very famously said that paid parental leave would be introduced over his dead body. Well the Australian people have been able to benefit from a Labor Government, we’re delivering paid parental leave and it will start on the 1st January next year.
JOURNALIST: 100 days marked by plenty of controversies though. Is the next 100 days looking anything like that?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well 100 days that’s delivering paid parental leave for tens of thousands of Australian families. It’s the Labor Government that of course also introduced the largest reforms to the Australian pension system in 100 years. And just last week pensioners received another increase. So the Labor Government is delivering to Australians, to pensioners, to parents, we’re out there getting on with the job.
JOURNALIST: There is concern that Queensland Wild Rivers Act has been referred to another Committee, it drags it out even further. Why isn’t the Government actually taking action instead of dragging it out?
JENNY MACKLIN: What we want to do is make sure there’s an inquiry that enables everyone to get on top of all of the issues in this very complex area. The Labor Government is very firmly committed to economic development and jobs for Indigenous people. There are a wide range of different issues, a wide range of different views that need to be considered in this complex area, so we are asking the Economics Committee of the House of Representatives to inquire into these issues. We expect it to report by March next year.
JOURNALIST: There’s (inaudible) in the Indigenous communities themselves so how can you hope to ever have any sort of consensus?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well that’s why it’s important to have a place where the different views can be aired. There are not only differences of views in the Indigenous community, of course there are complex issues that new Members of Parliament across the spectrum of the Parliament want to work through. That’s why we’ve referred this very important issue to the House of Representatives Economics Committee.
JOURNALIST: But how quickly are you going to get an answer on it?
JENNY MACKLIN: We’ve asked them to report by March next year and we do understand these issues are important. We want to put economic development and jobs for Indigenous people at the top of our Indigenous agenda. That’s why we have referred it to the Economics Committee. That’s why we want them to report by March next year.
JOURNALIST: Does referring it to an Economics Committee mean really that’s going to be the main priority?
JENNY MACKLIN: That’s exactly why we’ve referred it to the Economics Committee. We wanted to have a very clear focus on economic development and jobs. But we also want those jobs to be sustainable particularly in such a sense of the environmental area.