Senator Lambie: uphold your commitment to block cuts to PPL

BREAKING: Social Services Minister Christian Porter will bring yet another proposal to cut parental leave before parliament this week – tearing away the time working parents are able to spend at home caring for their new baby.[1]

The good news is, last time this happened pressure from Fair Agenda members pushed the Senate cross-benchers to make public commitments to block any cuts to paid parental leave - stopping the proposed cuts in their tracks. 

This week, we need to make sure Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie knows that the community is grateful for her commitment to block any cuts to paid parental leave -- and that we need her to stand strong no matter how many times the government tries to attack it. Can you take a few minutes to call Senator Lambie's office on (03) 6431 2233 and leave a message thanking her for standing up for families and blocking cuts to paid parental leave?

Some tips on what you could say!

You can call Senator Lambie's electorate office on (03) 6431 2233 (between 9am - 5pm) Here are some helpful hints on how your call can have a big impact. 

  • Ring ring - A staffer will answer the phone. If you don't get through straight away, wait a moment and then try again.
  • Introduce yourself - Who you are? Where do you live? What do you do (be sure to note if you have any relevant expertise or experience in this area, like working in early childhood or maternal health)?
  • Explain the reason for your call - Tell the staffer that you'd like to congratulate the Senator for her commitment to block cuts to paid parental leave, and thank her for protecting families. Let the staffer know that you'd like to confirm that the Senator will stand by that commitment given the new proposal coming before parliament this week. 
  • Share your story - Illustrate why paid parental leave is important to you, with an example from your life or the life of someone you know. How would your life be different if the cut to paid parental leave comes into effect? How would it affect your family or your community? What sacrifices might you need to make? What would it mean for trying to access childcare?
  • Ask for a commitment - If the staffer has not confirmed the Senator will stand by their commitment to block cuts to paid parental leave, ask if the Senator is still committed to voting against the attack. They may or may not commit, but by asking you will send a clear message that you're serious about holding them to account.
  • Say thanks! - Thank the staffer for taking the time to listen to you, and ask them to please pass your message onto the Senator.

Once you finish your call please send the Fair Agenda team a quick email at info@fairagenda.org to let us know what response you got, and how your call went.

Want a quick refresher? Click here for the facts on the proposed cuts to paid parental leave

It's unclear what this new proposal will be, or if the government is still trying to push through their previous proposal, but here’s what we know about the core of their last proposal:

  • They still want to cut the time thousands of new parents can spend at home caring for their new baby.
  • Instead of providing 18 weeks of support at the minimum wage, as the current scheme provides; the government are proposing a cut that would treat 18 weeks as the capped time most new parents are supported to care for their baby.
  • What would that mean exactly? Well, looking at the case study of the impact on a part-time nurse working in Victoria who is entitled to 10 weeks of employer provided care time for a new baby…
    • Under the current scheme, they would receive 18 weeks of minimum wage support from the government ($11,826) – topped up by 10 weeks of employer provided care they have negotiated into their contract ($7,200). That comes to a total of $19,026 – or enough for two parents and a newborn to cover living expenses for about 11 weeks.
    • Under what we understand as the government’s proposed new scheme, a nurse with 10 weeks of employer care negotiated into her contract at ($7,200), would have her government support cut down to provide combined support over just 18 weeks. That means government support would be reduced to 8 weeks (at the minimum wage - that’s $5,256). That would leave the new family with just $12,456. That’s enough to cover that family’s expenses for about 7 weeks.
  • The proposal appears to include two other changes, which haven't been explained by the government yet. Those are:
    • Changes that would mean parental leave is included in the income test for social security payments, a change that would mean $105.1 million less for families over the next four years.
    • Altering the current work test to enable more women to be eligible for parental leave. That’s a positive change --  but it shouldn’t be reliant on cutting the tim tens of thousands of other parents have to care for their baby. That’s why it’s critical we let our Senators know we oppose any cuts.

It's important to remember that any cut to paid parental leave can be expected to also exacerbate childcare accessibility problems. If mums and dads are forced back to work early by this change, we can expect flow on effects to hit the already strained childcare system -- which already has enough problems catering for babies between 6-12 months old.

-Find out more - 

  • Paid parental leave: Government to change proposed offerings, Social Services Minister confirms, ABC, 16 December 2015.
  • MYEFO: Christian Porter finds $36 million to soften double-dipping, The Australian, 16 December 2015.

Any cut to parental leave is bad for the country and bad for families. This is an area we should be expanding support, not taking it away. Let’s not forget that when it first looked at the issue of care time for parents, Australia’s own economic advisory body the Productivity Commission recommended parents should have 26 weeks leave as the minimum time needed off work to provide health and welfare benefits to new mothers and newborns.

Can you help make sure Senator Xenophon and Senator Kakoschke-Moore know their constituents care about this issue? Give Senator Xenophon's office a quick call on (08) 8232 1144, and/or Senator Kakoschke-Moore's office on (08) 8232 0220. Once you finish your call please send the Fair Agenda team a quick email at info@fairagenda.org to let us know what response you got.