NXT: Stop the cuts to parents' time to care

Today the Turnbull Government launched a new attack on working parents time to care for their newborns. 

It’s a proposal that would strip $451 million out of our parental leave system, punish women who have negotiated decent employer provided leave into their employment agreements (often in lieu of pay), and pit working parents against each other. We can't let them get away with it.

The Nick Xenophon Team will have the deciding vote on these cuts. Right now they're telling media: "we're not convinced, but we will still keep talking [to the government about them]."

Before the election the NXT pledged they would oppose any cuts to paid parental leave. Can you take 3 minutes to send them a quick message urging them to keep their word, and vote not to any cuts?

You can contact the NXT team:

  • The Party via the website via: https://nick.nxtmps.org.au/contact/
  • Party leader Nick Xenophon via: senator.xenophon@aph.gov.au
  • The NXT portfolio spokesperson Rebekha Sharkie MP via rebekha.sharkie.MP@aph.gov.au

What should I write? (click to view)

Here are our tips for putting together a quick and effective email (because we know personal emails from voters have more impact than copy and pastes):

  • Introduce yourself - Explain where you live and why you care about this issue. If you live in South Australia, or voted for the NXT at the last election, be sure to mention that.

  • Explain the reason you're emailing - Let them know that you're concerned about the Government's new proposed cut to paid parental leave, and the way it is trying to pit working families against each other. 

  • Share why you care about this issue. You may want to mention:
    • The fact that health experts recommend 26 weeks as the minimum period of post-natal leave for health and welfare reasons; yet this proposal would essentially cap the amount of time any parents who rely on any government provided leave to just 20 weeks of support.
    • The fact that this proposal appears to be pitting mums against each other, and would punish any women who have parental leave in their employment arrangements (even though this is often negotiated in lieu of increased pay or other important remuneration). 
    • The fact that the current government and employer combined parental leave system that the Government is attacking was designed to be used in combination, on the basis of recommendations from the Productivity Commission.
    • The fact that modelling shows that important and lower paid workers like nurses, teachers, ambos and Woolies workers will be hurt by the cuts.
    • You might also want to mention that you want them to fight for increases to parental leave for *all* working parents; and not support changes that are contingent on tearing money from other families, and reducing the pool of funding available overall.

  • Remind them of their election pledge to Fair Agenda members and ask for a commitment to vote against these (and any future) cuts. Before the election the NXT told Fair Agenda they were committed to "protect the current paid parental leave system".  We need to keep reminding them that voters are watching, and won't forget that promise. 

  • Thank them for their time.

Please forward your email to, info@fairagenda.org so we can keep track of the messages being sent and any replies received. 

 

Explainer on the new proposed policy (click to view)

This is now the Government's *fourth* attempt to cut paid parental leave.

They’re trying to sell this new proposal as a “boost” for parents. The problem is that this (measly) boost is entirely contingent on tens of thousands of other parents losing time with their newborns. It’s a policy that would drag our parental leave system backwards, and pits working parents against each other.

Here are the basics:

Experts say that 26 weeks post-natal leave is the minimum needed for health and welfare reasons.

Right now, any eligible parent can access 18 weeks of leave at the minimum wage, and then top that up with any leave they’ve negotiated into their employment contract, to cover costs while they care for their newborn.

The system was designed to be used in combination; to allow more women to access the recommended 26+ weeks leave. For many women, the leave negotiated into their employment agreement has been bargained in lieu of additional pay or other leave provisions. 

In their latest proposal the Government is once again trying to punish these women – by cutting their access to government leave if they want to access the employer leave they’ve negotiated. It means that instead of acting as a floor, the period of government provided leave would instead becomes a ceiling.

To be clear, there are some positive aspects of this latest proposal:

  • The amount of government provided leave would be increased from 18 to 20 weeks at the minimum wage (still well below the 26 weeks recommended by experts). This would be good news for working parents without access to employer leave.
  • A change in the ‘activity test’ that determines would also see an increase in the number of parents eligible to access parental leave. And if these increases were all that was on the table – it would be good news...
  • But both these changes would both be contingent on cutting the leave available for 72,000 other families.  

In short, the crux of this proposal is still a cut. One that’s estimated to tear $451 million out of the parental leave system, and to slash the amount of time thousands of workers like nurses, retail workers and ambos can afford to spend caring for their newborn. 

References (click to view)

1. Child care, paid parental leave, family tax benefit changes introduced in omnibus budget savings bill, ABC News, 8 February 2017.

2. Is this the winning compromise on paid parental leave, Women’s Agenda, 21 November 2016.

Samantha Maiden: Breakthrough looms on parental leave pay, Daily Telegraph, 20 November 2016.

Paid parental leave: Nick Xenophon warned not to pit working mums against each other, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 November 2016.