We did it! Cuts to parental leave doomed in the Senate

We did it! 

After more than a year of campaigning, we have the votes needed to stop the Government's planned cuts to paid parental leave in the new parliament!

38 Senate votes are needed to defeat any Government legislation in our Senate. Thanks to the election promises that Fair Agenda secured from the Nick Xenophon Team, Jacqui Lambie Network, The Australian Greens and Australian Labor Party there are now 39 Senators pledged to block the Government's plans to cut paid parental leave.

That means unless they break their promise - the Government's plan to cut parental leave won't be possible in this parliament.

For more than a year the Government has been trying to make cuts that would have dragged Australia's parental leave policy back in time; tearing precious time at home away from tens of thousands of working parents, and leaving workers like nurses, ambos, teachers and Woolies staff with access to just 18 weeks of paid leave (well below the 26 weeks recommended for health and welfare reasons).

But thanks to campaigning driven by thousands of Fair Agenda members and other community groups, the Government now won't be able to pass its planned cuts in this parliament.

It's a huge win for the tens of thousands of working parents who face having time at home with their newborn torn away - and it's only possible because of the efforts of thousands of Fair Agenda members like you.

It’s only possible thanks to the efforts of thousands of Fair Agenda members who have driven this campaign since Day 1. 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.

Fair Agenda members have helped stop these cuts not once, not twice, but three times. It’s a testament to the power of our movement, and to our ability to drive change on the national stage.

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?


Today's win is a massive victory for our community. But unfortunately, as the attacks on parental leave have shown – we can’t take any wins for granted. 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 we 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.

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 new parents’ paid time at home, Fair Agenda member Anna asked you to stand with her – 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 that strategy didn’t work.

In the weeks before Christmas Fair Agenda members came together to raise the urgent funds needed to commission expert modelling on the impact of these cuts on workers like nurses, teachers, ambos and Woolies staff.

We 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.

Together with fair Agenda member Heather and her son Luca, we 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. 


It won us a reprieve under this parliament, and it should have been the end. 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 6 key 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. 


And today, we confirmed that the pledges won by Fair Agenda mean that we have the number of votes needed to block these cuts in the Senate.

Thanks to all the Fair Agenda members who helped make this win possible!