These days most families depend on two steady incomes to make ends meet. Our paid parental leave system is critical to ensure working people can provide for and care for their newborn.
Given 99% of those who access the Government’s Paid Parental Leave system right now are women, any attacks on the current system can be expected to disproportionately impact on women.
The Coalition is standing by its plans to make cuts to the current paid parental leave system; which means if the Coalition are re-elected, the minor parties in the Senate crossbench will end up with the power to decide whether thousands of parents will have their paid parental leave cut.
It makes knowing where the parties stand on this issue absolutely critical.
More on parental leave (click to view)
The Productivity Commission has previously highlighted the importance of ensuring new parents attain 26 weeks or more of post-natal paid leave.
Australia’s current Paid Parental Leave system was introduced in January 2011, after recommendations from the Productivity Commission (the Government’s independent research and advisory body).
The current model is a “combined” system – which means the Government provides eligible parents with access to 18 weeks of government paid leave (at the minimum wage) and then allows them to top it up with any additional leave they have negotiated into their employment agreement. This was designed to ensure more parents can afford to achieve 26 weeks or more of leave.
Since Mother's Day 2015, the Abbott and Turnbull Governments have been trying to cut this system.
The most recent public proposal outlined by the Coalition in this area would cut the number of weeks of parental leave provided by the Commonwealth where a person also receives employer provided leave. Under that proposal the number of weeks of paid leave many eligible parent would be entitled to across both government and employer provisions would be capped at 18 weeks. (source)
The Coalition has not publicly indicated a change to this policy since then - telling media in April that the fact that they hadn't been able to pass the cuts in the previous parliament "does not mean this government at the moment is not trying to change that, 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" (source).
Fair Agenda has surveyed key parties on their stance on protecting and improving paid parental leave. The table below includes responses from the parties' who responded.
Other parties (click to view)
Fair Agenda did not receive survey responses from any other parties. However, some of the currently serving Senators have previously had their position on the issue reported by media:
Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm is reported as saying he "will support any overall cut to paid parental leave".
Family First Senator Bob Day is quoted as saying "he has never liked the [parental leave] payments because they discriminate against single-income households".
Senator John Madigan has spoken out publicly against the Coalition's most recent proposed cuts, because of their impact on low and middle income Australians.
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