Paid Parental Leave – ABC NewsRadio Breakfast with Marius Benson
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MARIUS BENSON: Jenny Macklin, one of the comments that is included in the coverage of the parental leave issue this morning is that least there is now bipartisan support in principle for paid parental leave?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well Tony Abbott’s latest thoughts on paid parental leave in fact create massive uncertainty for families who might be planning to have a baby, planning to become pregnant in the next few months. Labor’s scheme is due to start on 1 January next year and now Tony Abbott is refusing to say whether or not he will support the Government’s scheme in the Senate.
MARIUS BENSON: So do you draw any comfort from his in principle support at least for paid parental leave as an issue?
JENNY MACKLIN: I think as you can see from his comments yesterday, he is throwing up his latest idea which is to impose a $3 billion tax on business to pay for his paid parental leave scheme. Nobody is going to take that seriously, least of all parents who know that business is going to oppose it. What we need is a sensible approach to this debate. Labor has gone through a major Productivity Commission inquiry, there’s been enormous consultation with business, with employees, with parents about the sort of scheme that will work in Australia. We’ve never before had a paid parental leave scheme in this country. That’s why we’ve been so careful about the way in which we’ve designed it and now all Tony Abbott is doing is creating this terrible uncertainty both for parents and for business.
MARIUS BENSON: You say nobody’s going to take it seriously but a prospective mother could look at these two policies and say, under Labor I would get maybe $9,000, with the Opposition I might get up to $75,000. That’s a reason for voting Liberal.
JENNY MACKLIN: And what she’ll also say is, how’s that going to be paid for? Because parents of course are practical people, they want to know how this is going to be paid for. And now Tony Abbott is saying that he’s going to pay for it with a $3 billion tax on business, when just a month ago he said there would no new taxes. So he really can’t be believed when he talks about paid parental leave.
MARIUS BENSON: Do you see any merit in that idea of requiring employers to pay directly into the cost of paid parental leave?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well as I just mentioned, we went through a very serious inquiry with the Productivity Commission. They examined many, many different approaches to paid parental leave and came up with the proposition that the Government then accepted that we should pay paid parental leave for 18 weeks at the Federal minimum wage, and that’s the scheme that we will put into the Parliament in the near future.
MARIUS BENSON: With this renewed debate, is it possible the Government might review its own thinking on this and provide perhaps a more generous scheme?
JENNY MACKLIN: We did a very extensive review before we put this proposal into the Budget last year. There’s been further consultation working through the details with both business and unions over the last six months. The legislation is now being drafted. It will be put into the Parliament shortly. So you can see we’ve put an enormous amount of thought, careful thought, into our approach. Mr Abbott keeps changing his mind every six minutes. Last month he said no new taxes, now he’s proposing a huge new tax to pay for this latest idea of his.
MARIUS BENSON: Jenny Macklin, I’ll leave it there. Thank you very much.
JENNY MACKIN: Thank you.
MARIUS BENSON: Jenny Macklin, the Federal Families Minister.