Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Major win for Australian families – Introduction of Paid Parental Leave Bill 2010

The Government today introduced legislation into Parliament to deliver Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave scheme.

This is a major win for Australian families who have waited decades for a national Paid Parental Leave scheme.

Paid Parental Leave is in the best interests of babies. When parents are supported to stay home from work in those critical months after the birth of their child, little babies get the best start in life.

Our scheme will give parents more options to balance work and family, helps employers retain skilled staff and will boost our nation’s productivity.

The Government’s scheme will provide up to 18 weeks of government-funded parental leave pay at the National Minimum Wage (currently $543.78 per week) for eligible parents of children born or adopted on or after 1 January 2011.

The Government’s scheme is based closely on the expert recommendations of the Productivity Commission and is in Australia’s economic interest.

Under our scheme, parental leave pay can be taken in addition to existing employer-funded entitlements either at the same time or consecutively. Our scheme will help employers enhance the family friendly workplace conditions many already offer.

Today Australia is finally catching up with the rest of the world. Along with the United States, Australia is currently one of just two OECD countries without a national paid parental leave scheme.

We urge the Senate to support this bill and not delay it beyond the winter sitting to ensure working families have access to Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave scheme from 1 January next year.

An exposure draft of the legislation has been provided to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 3 June 2010.

If the bill is passed in this sitting of Parliament, it will enable the first claims for Parental Leave pay to be lodged with the Family Assistance Office from 1 October 2010.

A bill containing consequential amendments to other legislation and transitional provisions for the commencement of the scheme will also be introduced into Parliament in the next sitting week.

For 12 years in government, Tony Abbott refused to deliver a paid parental leave scheme and now he wants to hit business with a great big tax.

The Government’s scheme is fair for families and fair to business.