How Fair Agenda members helped stop cuts to working parents' time to care

Great news! 

Fair Agenda members have helped stop cuts to our parental leave system that would have hurt more than 79,000 families. 

This impact was only possible thanks to the efforts of thousands of Fair Agenda members who have driven this campaign since Day One. Members like Anna who launched the petition calling on other Fair Agenda members to stand with her in campaigning against the cuts… members like Trish, Kyla and Belinda who met with former Senator Glenn Lazarus and asked him to use his Senate vote to block the cuts… members like Heather and baby Luca who came to Parliament House and stood with Senator Lazarus and Senator Lambie as they committed the votes needed to block the legislation in the previous Parliament… and members like Sascha, Colleen, Cassie, Kate and baby Ella who met with election candidates and got them on the record on this issue.

Together, Fair Agenda members have now helped stop cuts to parental leave *four* times. These wins are a testament to the power of our movement, and to our ability to drive change on the national stage. So thank you to everyone who has contributed to this campaign – whether as a donor, volunteer, or as someone who has used their voice to join the call for change. 

How we did it 

When the Abbott Government announced on Mother’s Day last year that they planned to cut working parents’ paid time at home, Fair Agenda member Anna asked you to stand with her to speak against these cuts – and within days 15,000 Fair Agenda members joined her. 

When it became clear that the Government weren’t going to back down from their outrageous attack on working parents, we worked together to win the votes needed to block this proposal in the Senate.

Over the months that followed Fair Agenda members called, emailed and met with key cross-bench Senators to make sure they knew about the strong community opposition to the Government’s cuts.

This community pressure helped ensure it was impossible for the Abbott government to negotiate its cuts through the Senate.

That should have been the end of it.

But instead, when Malcolm Turnbull took over the leadership, he doubled down – and announced a new, slightly different proposal he was planning to negotiate through the Senate. 

But we didn’t let him.

The Turnbull Government’s had made their announcement in the weeks before Christmas – the perfect time to announce something you don’t want to attract bad press - we made sure their strategy didn’t work.

In just a few days Christmas Fair Agenda members chipped in to raise the funds needed to commission expert modelling on the impact of these cuts on workers like nurses, teachers, ambos and Woolies staff.

Fair Agenda then released that research in January, securing syndicated print coverage across major cities, keeping this issue in the headlines where it belonged. 

This coverage helped get crossbench Senator John Madigan on the record as opposed to the new cuts – securing a critical vote needed to block the Government’s attack. 

Then, Fair Agenda joined our friends at The Parenthood in Canberra, to meet with key Senators Glenn Lazarus and Jacqui Lambie.

Fair Agenda member Heather and her son Luca stood with the Senators as they told media they would pledge the final votes needed to block the Turnbull Government’s new cuts in the Senate. 

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It won us a reprieve under the last parliament, and it should have been the end of this cruel policy.

But then Minister Porter told media that the fact that the Government's hadn't been able to pass the legislation: "does not mean that this government at the moment is not trying to change [the current system], or if it were re-elected wouldn’t also be looking at ways in which to modify the existing system along the lines that we have suggested.

In response, Fair Agenda members stepped up our campaign – donating and volunteering to make this an issue for voters at the July 2 election.

Fair Agenda members led meetings with key candidates, and funded an election scorecard that got key eight Parties on the record as opposing any cuts that the Turnbull Government might try to get through.

Then we got that scorecard in front of more than 15,000 voters before they headed to the polls. 

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When the Senate results were announced, Fair Agenda had secured commitments to block these cuts from a majority of Senators. 

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But then the Federal Government started backroom negotiations to pass a different form of cuts to working parents time to care - putting pressure on the Nick Xenophon Team to pass a variation of the cuts. And there were reports that the Party was considering going back on its promise. So Fair Agenda partnered up with The Parenthood and others to hold them to their word, including funding a giant billboard near their electorate offices in Adelaide:

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And then, when questioned by journalists on their pledge to Fair Agenda members, the Nick Xenophon Team confirmed they would not support the cuts. A decision that has seen the Federal Government remove the cuts from the Federal Budget, although they remain Government policy.

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This campaigning by Fair Agenda members over the past two years has stopped cuts that would have hurt 79,000 working families and counting. Thanks to everyone who took action to make this possible!

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As the attacks on working parents' time to care have shown – we can’t take progress on issues of equality for granted. In fact, we still have to be ready to defend against those who want to drag us backwards on these issues. 

That means it’s critical that Fair Agenda members keep working to hold those pledges accountable for their commitments, as well as working to secure the policy improvements we need to make progress on women’s economic inequality.

Important campaigns like this are only possible thanks to the generous donations of Fair Agenda members. Can you chip in to help our community drive more change? www.fairagenda.org/donate

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Renee Carr 2017-06-08 11:17:41 +1000
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