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Let’s acknowledge Abbott’s parental leave plan is better

Forget the misplaced rhetoric, Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme is more generous and sends the right message about women in work. This “hardline feminist” is happy to say so.

Tony Abbott

It seems odd finding myself in the media spotlight as a “hardline feminist” policy freak because I am supporting one form of paid parental leave over another.

Yes, it is the Coalition version and it’s under attack from within, so why am I supporting it? Rather than side with the Tony Abbott critics or the Institute of Public Affairs and the il-Liberal Right, I prefer to judge the policy on its merits.

I want to state upfront my reasons. The Coalition model is closer to an industrial work entitlement that normalises paid parental leave than the current scheme, and it’s longer (26 weeks versus 18). This reinforces the idea that having babies is a legitimate reason for time off for workers and may change common workplace attitudes that assume a woman having babies is not serious about her job. The current system is a universal government payment of the minimum wage $606 per week for 18 weeks — and has no connection to a person’s pay. Most get less than their previous income, some a lot less. And more than half the recipients lose income over their leave as well.

The current media fuss about the form of payments for parental leave is a sad illustration of both the tenor of current political debates and continuing bizarre attitudes to women in paid work. At one level, the debate should be quite simple: is the leave pay rate of the primary carer (usually the mother) an industrial or welfare issue? If it is the former, then the payment level should relate to the normal pay rates for the agreed time; if the payment is basically a welfare one, then the payment should reflect the public benefit. Who funds the payment needs to be considered separately, as if it is to be a legal entitlement of either sort, the costs need to be pooled. Otherwise, those who employ mostly younger women and face prohibitive costs would be disadvantaged — a pooled funds version distributes the risks fairly.

This is not the way the issues are being discussed. Business, unsurprisingly, is opposing being taxed. Some see the extra expense as being unaffordable, but that can be separated out of questions of the type of payment. I would not object to changes to the Abbott scheme that would reduce the cap or maybe offer 80% of pay, as happens in Sweden. The real worry is that the main discussion seems to be based on the character and legitimacy of its proposer.

Too much of the discussion has been emotive, often s-xist and deeply irrational.”

Too much of the discussion has been emotive, often s-xist and deeply irrational. The most offensive idea seems to have been that maybe a handful of high-earning women would continue their salaries while procreating. This in itself raised a level of ire that is not applied to high-income men. Why differentiate because they are women having babies? Very few in this tax bracket would still be bearing children, if they ever did.

Is it because they are having babies? We all get paid our normal wages when we have the flu, are on compo or long service leave, so why not for women in labour? Or is there a lack of comfort with the image of high-learning women? The confusion became worse in some bizarre responses to a somewhat badly worded (and misreported) statement from Abbott. In discussing his belief that highly qualified women should be paid what they earned, to connect them more to the workforce, he used the phrase “women of that calibre”. All hell broke loose — it was elitist and worse.

Inequalities are increasing between women, as more earn higher pay and rise into senior positions, but more so among men. Income distribution overall is a separate issue but seems to be confused here, suggesting discomfort with the idea of women who are powerful. That is why we need to normalise women’s relationship to paid work and money.

Most OECD countries offer paid parental leave. In Sweden, it is for over 12 months at 80% of pay. I have no problem with a discount — costs are usually lower when you don’t go to work — but it is clearly a workforce entitlement. We are nowhere near the top of the OECD now and would still not be if the Abbott scheme was introduced. Most women’s groups supported the idea of replacement income up to average weekly earnings in the 2002 inquiry into parental leave run by Pru Goward, then the federal s-x discrimination commissioner. That would be closer to the Abbott version than the Jenny Macklin one.

Maybe we should all use the Abbott-expressed good intentions to work towards an industrial version, but less expensive than the current proposal. That would meet most of the problems and reinforce the idea that parental leave is an industrial entitlement. Though Alex Hawke and other Coalition dissenters probably don’t have that in mind.

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  • 1
    Cyndi
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Say what you will about his PPL policy, but don’t fool yourself. Abbott and the coalition are elitist and worse.

  • 2
    grubbidok
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    What a load of crap. Labor already offers minimum wage to everyone. The major issue with the LNP is the complete lack of equity considerations. What of those unemployed, or partly employed? The system is hardly ‘better’ for them.

    There is nothing stopping employers from chipping in to supplement the PPL of those well-to-do in Labor’s model. If people want a ‘reflective’ rate of leave pay, they should focus on getting employers to put up their fair share on top of the societal contribution (which *should* be equal for everyone), not setting up a structurally unfair system, which serves only to disadvantage those who are already disadvantaged, and transfer the bulk of funding to those who need it less than those at the bottom of the SES heap do.

    The only real ‘better’ I can see proffered is the 26 v 18 week consideration, which Labor would do well to match. But on every single other measure the LNP model is less sustainable and less fair than the ALP model.

  • 3
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Cox has given a strong argument, not yet refuted by her critics.

    If the government should support and entitlement to the same amount for all workers on paid parental leave should it remove the unequal amounts provided for workers’ recreation leave, long service leave, workers’ compensation and superannuation?

  • 4
    david crikeyf
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I havent read the Abbott proposal in detail, (so there may be something in place to stop this), but wont it be open to wholesale rorting by small business (eg medical Practioners, Law Practioners, Real Estate Agency owners) who will “Employ” their wives on $150000/year prior to them having a family ?

  • 5
    GF50
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Yet another excuse for the inexcusable LOTO? Misplaced rhetoric indeed! His total belief system exposed.
    What you then propose has nothing to do with LOTO’S ideas take away entirely or reduce lower paid parental leave.
    Lets just say that there may well be better paid parental schemes and to “reinforce paid parental leave as an industrial entitlement” IMO would be a necessity, and this is /has been done by the current Government. Your opinion: not enough. Mine: better than what was.!

  • 6
    aliso6
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    You, Eva, remind me of the current Federal Greens. You get what you want, or some portion thereof, oh great. No matter of anything else that needs to be considered. A bob each way is the go. Debate, what debate indeed, no contribution from you.

  • 7
    Achmed
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    The tax will be paid by business..the cost will be paid by consumers as businesses increase prices to recoup the outlay.

    Woolies have estimated they will pay $40 million…what they mean to say is we will be increasing prices and our customers will pay the $40 million…up go food prices etc. And that will hit those who can least afford the extra increases.

    Banks have esrimated they will need to increase interest rates 0.5% to cover the cost of their share and to protect their multi-billion dollar profits.

    The rise in the CPI and its impact on inflation will be significant. The strain it will put on households already struggling to meet mortgage payments and/or put food on the table will be immeasureable

  • 8
    Will
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Cox presents an all or nothing false dichotomy between welfare and workplace entitlement, but doesn’t offer serious arguments for why we must accept this framework.

    Like many progressives, I suspect, I would like to see a reasonably generous scheme of paternal leave in terms decent income replacement over a proper duration of time for men and women - to foster the best outcomes for prenatal and postnatal care, address discrimination and help ensure career development and continuity.

    But I certainly don’t accept that full income replacement or replacement up to $70K p.a. is the apex of that ideal. Though Cox dismisses the likely number of people on higher incomes to claim, she won’t actually defend that this is a good use of public funds. Similarly, I disagree with the whole idea of a special company rate. If anything, company tax rates should be coming down not up.

    Yet according to Cox I can’t possibly have a reasonable disagreement with the policy. At best, I’m giving succour to the enemy, and, at worst, I have no reason for my opposition except being a hater. Sorry, this is garbage.

  • 9
    Sue11
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    No and no. No it’s not because it’s women, no it’s not because they are high earning. And, yes we get paid for sick leave and holiday pay, however, this is an additional cost on top of other leave. So why is having paid parental leave at full pay any more a right than me wanting to have 6 months leave at full pay so I can learn a new skill and be more productive in a workforce whose productivity is falling? My old skills are becoming irrelevant in a changing job market.

    Also, I am concerned that the narrowness of the debate seems to indicate that the decision to have or not have a baby hangs totally on the need to have 6 months leave at full pay up to $75,000? Just like I am concerned that paying a baby bonus means that people will have more babies. Does it? Should it? It takes a lot more than this to plan for and raise children, it just seems to narrow the whole debate to money being the only thing necessary.

    Yes it’s the narrowness of the debate that makes me concerned. I have met a lot of people that think having a baby won’t change anything, it does and in a BIG way. A more complete narrative needs to be presented in this debate to convince me Mr Abbott’s version is totally necessary and needed to get the desired outcome.

  • 10
    tonyfunnywalker
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I find your defence of this elitist scheme sickening. It is an insult to the parents of Australian children, the real Aussie battlers who reared and educated their children with the “feather bedding” of baby bonuses and paid maternity leave. My wife and I are one of those families who went without for many years to rear our children, provide them with a private school and university education by working 2 jobs and in my wife’s case (as she chose to rear her children rather than pawn them off to childcare) working part time as the opportunities arose as a social worker.

    She also has a Honours degree Mr Abbott.

    My wife is the “classic Aussie mum” not the ” pandered” referred to by Abbott.

    I am resentful for any of my taxpayer dollars be used for this social engineering of middle and upper-class welfare. I am waiting for business and shareholder revolt to start a campaign as they did with the Carbon Tax and Mining Tax to throw this whole ambit of Social Engineering of the Privileged out of the window.

    There are enough tax breaks already without universal levies which are a burden on the underprivileged to line the pockets of the overpriviledged.

    Where the bloody hell are you Bernie ?????

    The deflation factor will be immense, but what will happen is that the major companies will pass the levy to consumers’ as raised prices as they protect dividends.

    Again the most effected are the underprivileged as they are the ones least able to afford the price rises.

    Household budgets are tight as it is especially for those of us on fixed incomes.

    Already as retirees we have to supplement our income by working and I am not an exception to the rule.

    The retirees of Australia like our counterparts in the US will soon be “waiting tables”

    We are self funded retirees still pay tax and more importantly we vote.

    Hope you have a nice Mother’s Day.

  • 11
    cnewt27
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    One of the rarely discussed aspects of the Abbott plan is the potential for this to be the “thin end of the wedge” for future welfare benefits to be geared to income: pensions based on a % of income etc. Hardly unimaginable under a future Liberal government given their success in setting in place subsidies for millionaire’s health insurance,and endless subsidies to private schools(the essence of Gonski after all). Each of these was meekly accepted by Rudd-Gillard.Anyone who believed in a fairer society will look back on the 2007 election and subsequent disasters as one of the great, historic moments of failed nerve. Australians voted in 2007 to end the Howard years and instead got a continuation of so many of Howard’s policies.And a continuation of his grotesque counter-insurgency disaster in Afghanistan. Imagine a Labor government imposing a tax penalty on people refusing to “choose” private health insurance! Well, you don’t have to imagine it. The failure of nerve in not holding a d-dissolution poll on climate change policy will haunt Labor for a very long time.

  • 12
    Kerry Lovering
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    There is a fundamental flaw in the argument put by Eva Cox. Sick leave and other workplace entitlements are available under agreed conditions to all workers regardless of gender or income. They cannot be compared with Maternity Leave which is ONLY available for women.
    OECD countries have different social security insurance systems which also can’t be compared to ours.

    The baby bonus was a welfare system. Abbott’s system fails on several counts but is certainly discriminatory.

    The government’s scheme is an incentive scheme to keep young women in the workforce where they are desperately needed. I agree superannuation payments should be included to ensure these women have a decent retirement. Top ups by large companies is already happening but Abbott’s scheme will probably stop that.Already there have been suggestions on how the system can be rorted.
    All this has nothing to do with how powerful women are viewed. Quota systems for women on boards is the way to get encouragement and recognition for powerful women.

  • 13
    Stephen Jackson
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Good argument, but perhaps a hybrid model would be appropriate. Keep the Govt funded minimum wage as per Gillard, but allow (encourage?) employers to top up to the Abbott level?

  • 14
    Achmed
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    The tax will be paid by business..the cost will be paid by consumers as businesses increase prices to recoup the outlay.

    The rise in the CPI and its impact on inflation will be significant. The strain it will put on households already struggling to meet mortgage payments and/or put food on the table will be immeasureable

  • 15
    browser
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Eva Cox

    Sick leave is paid by the employer and is part of the working contract. Tony’s scheme is paid by a tax and I fail to see why a low income earner should fund a woman, or a man at $75000 a year. Could not they save some money out of their $150000 income.
    Are you a spokeperson for women or just rich women?

  • 16
    Paddy Forsayeth
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    cnewt - I agree. I want a socialist aligned Labor Party not this present pap. The sooner Labor rids itself of the apparachiks and destroys the factional crap then we might see the real Labor part which looks after the majority…(the rich will always look after themselves). You are spot on cnewt, a history of failed nerve, spineless politics.

  • 17
    shepherdmarilyn
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Abbott’s plan benefits rich woman while poor women suffer.

    REally Eva, why talk tripe.

    We women are supposed to be equal, not still whinging about being paid for reproducing.

  • 18
    JMNO
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Europe has higher taxes and also has national insurance schemes to which employees and employers contribute based on a percentage of the employee’s income. Thus paid parental leave is a contributary scheme - the employee and the employer have contributed so that the employee gets a percentage of their income. So a higher income person gets more money than a low income person because they have contributed more. Abbott’s scheme is not contributory. It is funded out of government revenue raised through taxing a small number of companies, and yet distributes this revenue unequally, giving much more to high income earners.

    Prue Goward suggested at one stage that his scheme should be the catalyst for introducing a national insurance scheme.

    Also no-one has given a rationale for expecting big business to fund the paid parental leave obligations of employers across the whole economy including NGOs, partnerships, self-employed contractors etc. If the principle is that employers should fund the scheme why not tax all employers?

  • 19
    p d
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what happens if one of those high caliber women have 4 children one after the other and give them all up for adoption after they cash in the money from the parental leave scheme

    That’s $75.000 X 4 = $300.000

    With the sort of money one could buy a nice city apartment
    The privileges of being a woman….

  • 20
    bluepoppy
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Better for whom? Certainly better for those who will benefit from the scheme but not better overall. This scheme is pork barrelling and should not be mistaken as ideology.

    It is another middle class welfare scheme that will mostly benefit those at the middle to top end of the income scale. Cox talks about high level career women taking time off from large salaries to have a baby not doing so if this affects income. What about low income parents? Surely a richer person has more money to save and prepare for the addition of a baby.

    Labor’s scheme is more than generous already and allows important time off from paid work. Why is there a notion that having a baby is a burden and a cost to be borne by the whole community. What about families who decide that one parent will stay home for a few years prior to schooling, or work part-time to allow parents to be more fully engaged in the raising of their children - if that is their choice.

    I welcome many social welfare schemes such as the long overdue NDIS and would rather this revenue be used to assist carers, reduce hospital waiting lists and ensure services are adequately staffed to meet demand and needs. This is just another way to foster certain economic ideologies around growth and productivity rather than about families and choices.

  • 21
    Sam
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    I’m very sceptical about the claimed benefits in Abbott’s scheme:
    - What evidence is there that having government pay replacement wage rather than minimum wage would result in any positive change in workplace attitudes towards childbearing? It may have just as well have the opposite effect.
    - How does it encourage “high calibre” women to not put their careers ahead of having children? Experience is the key driver behind career progression. Receiving full pay for a prolonged period of time off may alleviate material concerns, but it does not make up for experience not gained during that period and still leaves women at a competitive disadvantage against peers who didn’t have the time off.
    - How does Abbott’s scheme improve upon the current arrangement at the workplaces that would see its works get the biggest increase in payments? Highly paid women are in those positions because they have skills in high demand. With this comes bargaining power and I would be extremely surprised if there weren’t workplaces that already offer maternity leave at replacement income as an incentive to work there. Some stats on this would be nice.

    There is a limitless number of worthy schemes out there but only enough money to fund some of them. Because of this, we need to be careful to pick only the most worthy of them. A scheme such as this with such dubious benefits is not worthy of being funded.

  • 22
    Saugoof
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Yes the LNP scheme is better, but who cares, it’s not going to happen. Once an Abbott government is in power they’ll quickly discover some convenient “budget discrepancy that Labor didn’t tell us about before the election” which will serve as an excuse to not implement it.

  • 23
    Catherine M
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this Eva Cox. It makes perfect sense. Please do not misunderstand. My fear of an Abbott led government is great and I would never vote for them. But rationally and politically this approach to paid parental leave makes much more sense to me. The fact that I suspect Tony Abbott stumbled upon this accidentally is no reason for a Labor government to reject it as a far superior policy than their own which I find offensive.

  • 24
    Mark from Melbourne
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to create further argument on this but you got it wrong…

    If it is an “industrial” thing then it surely is about a cost benefit analysis and up to the individual businesses to decide what is most in in the business/shareholder’s interests. ie fund more leave in the hope of better retention of skilled staff vs pay less and take your chances.

    If it is a government thing then it is effectively a welfare question and equity and cost to tax payer are certainly relevant.

    Same applies if it is a social equity question (which is what you really seem to be arguing) - at the end of the day someone has to pay and given the pie is only so big then decisions about cost benefit do come in to play.

  • 25
    Achmed
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    “If it’s right for the bloke on holiday to get paid at his real wage, if it is right for the bloke on sick leave to get to paid his real wage, why isn’t it right for the woman on parental leave to get paid her real wage?” says Abbott

    When women go on holiday they get their real wage, when they take sick leave, women get their full pay.

    Someone should explain that to Abbott the economic minnow

    Read more: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/national/abbott-parental-scheme-to-cost-2bn-more/story-e6frfku9-1226637304274#ixzz2Sg2XPahA

  • 26
    browser
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Catherine M

    What is offensive? You are easily offended.

  • 27
    Mark from Melbourne
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Gadzooks. Awaiting moderation, again…

  • 28
    Pusscat
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Whatever the best ppl scheme may or may not be, Cox deserves thanks for offering a little sample of her habitual civilised rational clarity and analysis.

    As a contrast to most other purported “discussion” of this (and every other) topic - the usual mindless argy-bargy.

    (Not meaning this thread but the mainstream media collage of soundbites and how-much-will-I-get that is now our public dicourse.)

    As far as I can see, her central purpose here is to push the idea that we should regard parental leave in the same light as sick leave, for example,ie as a normal feature of the employer-worker contract, thus normalising further the idea that women are a valued part of the workforce.

    She IS NOT giving a wholesale endorsement of Abbott’s plan or a free plug for regressive upward wealth redistribution in general.
    She IS saying that one feature of Abbott’s plan, that is, linking ppl rate to income level, may encourage people to equate it with other “normal” income-linked benefits like sick leave.

  • 29
    Mark from Melbourne
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Moderator seems to have gone out for a cup of tea…

  • 30
    Phil L
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Just wondering if those commenting would find this scheme more palatable fi the cutover earning level was $80k. Is it the few that earn over that that some find distasteful?

    And I wonder if paying a few yummy mummy’s to stay at home is worth it to lift maternity payments of the ‘average’ aussie mum – who the vast majority of which will be much better off under the mad monks scheme.

  • 31
    Achmed
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Mark looks more like a lllooonnnggg lunch

  • 32
    Dawson Colin
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Not much comfort for the fastest growing category of employees - casual and temporary. Abbott’s scheme just entrenches the Liberal concept of social equity: winners and losers. A handful of winners and a whole lot of losers.

  • 33
    Buddy
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    P D that is a disgusting and completely disingenuous contribution … ..

  • 34
    burninglog
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Why is it that commentators always nowadays explain what Abbott “really means” whenever he opens his big mouth?

  • 35
    Marcus Ogden
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    My 2c worth -

    If it was to be paid out of the employer’s pocket, then I wouldn’t have a problem with it being paid at the employee’s normal pay rates, like other forms of leave.

    But if it’s to be paid out of the public purse (as Abbott’s scheme would be), then it must not increase with income level - it must taper off with income level. Otherwise it’s just as bad as the private health insurance rebate, private school funding, superannuation tax concessions, negative gearing, discounted capital gains tax and other upper class welfare. I don’t see how any “progressive” could argue otherwise.

  • 36
    Simon Mansfield
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Should people already on Newstart even be having babies?

  • 37
    beetwo77
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Agree 100% with Marcus Ogden. There appears to be a massive confusion here. Sick and holiday, berievement etc are funded by the employer and this is going to be funded by government revenue. The concept of it increasing with income is just absolutely incredible. Stunning that anyone could possibly contemplate such a government policy measure.

    26 weeks is probably a good thing. Encouraging workplaces to chip in and top up is a good thing. The government paying high income earners wage for 6 months whilst low income earners get nothing because they are probably employed through some mechanism that prevents it and even if they do get paid, they get paid a fraction of what hte high income earner gets…

    This article really is abysmal. Amber the debate in some quarters may be fueled by sexism. But in the entire rest of the progressive left its fueled largely by the equity argument.

  • 38
    David Hand
    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    It’s a crap policy dreamed up in better times by a leader who wanted to rehabilitate his image with female voters.

    It is absolutely contrary to Liberal economic philosophy. Good grief - even Eva cox agrees with it!

    It will never be implemented even if the Coalition wins government.

    Eva used the new killer word, guaranteed to alienate middle Australia.

    Entitlements.

  • 39
    bluepoppy
    Posted Thursday, 9 May 2013 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    Talking against the Coalition’s PPL is not anti-women or anti-feminism. Feminism doesn’t mean agreeing with anything that relates to women if it is an ill-thought out policy. Otherwise it is just someone else dictating to women what they should think. I am normally supportive of Ms Cox’s views on most things just not on this issue or the baby bonus for that matter. This does not make me anti-women.

  • 40
    Terrence John Snedden
    Posted Thursday, 9 May 2013 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    Abbott’s foot in mouth remarks that the merit of women as mothers can be differentiated bases on their employment status and income must be seen for what it is in the context of his history of contempt for women. He is a sheep in wolf’s clothing and the moment he strays from the script designed to paint him as enlightened and caring the rabid misogynist dog instinctively launches with teeth bared.

    Getting pregnant, having a baby and raising a child has nothing to do with ones work role, training and skills. It is most often a voluntary and personal matter of a non-work nature.

    In this context it is quite different from annual leave, superannuation and sick leave that arise directly from the workplace and are conditions of employment.

    Nonetheless, anything can become part of the conditions of employment. An employer seeking to attract and retain staff might offer paid parental leave, various fringe benefits such as cars, health insurance to employees and employees in turn might seek such conditions through enterprise bargaining negotiations. It is for companies to determine packages of remuneration and conditions of employment to meet their staff recruitment and retention objectives. This might be called a workplace/industrial based scheme that is determined by market forces.

    Tony Abbott’s scheme plans to raise a levy on large companies that is pooled an administered by government with compensatory company tax reductions that will diminish general government revenue. By sleight of hand the taxpayer not companies ends up footing the costs that flow in large proportion to individuals on higher incomes that choose to have children.

    Abbott’s scheme is a welfare based government funded scheme that uses public funds dressed up as a business funded scheme. Funds for the public good should not be plundered to promote the private interests of the most privileged in the community.

  • 41
    Terrence John Snedden
    Posted Thursday, 9 May 2013 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    Indeed, if a scheme increases the inequity between the rich and poor it is nothing more than the rich awarding themselves pay increase and benefit greater than others engaged in exactly the same enterprise - parenting.

    In relation to support to parents raising a family one must ask what is reasonable, what is enough and who needs this support? To provide greater support to the wealthy will only further erode the social capital that tenuously maintains social harmony and order in our society.

  • 42
    Spider
    Posted Thursday, 9 May 2013 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    When rAbbot First proposed his PPL, He stated it would initally be funded by a levy on the largest companies, but eventually by consolidated revenue.. us taxpayers. Is this still his intention?.

    How can the PPL be compared to sick leave, long service leave etc, which are genuine work-place entitlements paid by employers if we all are paying for it?

    Alternatively, what is to prevent the rort outlined by

    david crikeyf [4]

    Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I havent read the Abbott proposal in detail, (so there may be something in place to stop this), but wont it be open to wholesale rorting by small business (eg medical Practioners, Law Practioners, Real Estate Agency owners) who will “Employ” their wives on $150000/year prior to them having a family ?

    I see another angle to david crikeyf’s argument. Can the same small business rort be extended by catholics pumping out 10-12 babies in 10-12 years, work 6 months, stay home 6 months etc?

    Whatever the funding source, the taxpayer/consumer will pay in the end.

    Oh, and what Browser [15] and Marilyn [17] said.

  • 43
    Spider
    Posted Thursday, 9 May 2013 at 3:22 am | Permalink

    Costings from the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), published in The Australian Financial Review, predict the package would cost $3.6 billion in 2014/15 and rise to $5.3 billion in 2016/17.

    This is a very important economic policy,” he told reporters in Sydney.

    The wealth of a country depends on three things - population, participation and productivity - and our paid parental leave policy does good things for everything.”

    Considering the “participation and productivity” probably has a lead-in time of 20 or so years, and we are talking at least $5 billion (and rising) per year meanwhile.

    Lets see now… 20 years @ Mon $5 Billion

    Cost benefit analysis anybody ????????????

    The NBN at $37Billion (NOT $90 Billion is far a far cheaper boost to he country’s wealth.

  • 44
    mari
    Posted Thursday, 9 May 2013 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    To say I am disappointed in Eva cox is an understatement, this is the woman who was critical of Julia Gillard in The Oz earlier in the year. Is it an example of someone suffering suffering from lack of attention, after being in the limelight many years ago?

  • 45
    Spider
    Posted Thursday, 9 May 2013 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    [43] above, Mon = Min (minimum)

  • 46
    robinw
    Posted Thursday, 9 May 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Eva’s dictum seems to be: “To those that have, they shall have even more while to those that have not, they shall have even less”. Middle class feminism at its grasping best.

  • 47
    David Gibson
    Posted Thursday, 9 May 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Strong argument but nonetheless a failed one as the author leads herself to the real conclusion about parental leave schemes - it should be an industrial entitlement standardised to the nation.

    If paid parental leave is a workplace entitlement then two things about Abbott’s plan should be different:
    1. Men should be eligible.
    2. The government should not be funding it.

    Now, these two points can be made against the ALP plan in varying degrees too. But, the government does not fund annual leave or sick leave, this is the cost of doing business and employing someone. They were hard fought entitlements each time but they are now accepted practice.

    By recruiting government funding to fund a parental leave scheme the issue of equity is introduced. The government of Australia, as demonstrated via a wide variety of programs, schemes and funding mechanisms in a diverse range of areas, seeks to achieve horizontal and vertical equity.

    Abbott’s scheme does neither of these things, if anything it exacerbates existing inequities.

    If Abbott’s scheme is better in the sense it provides momentum for a standardised industrial entitlement, how does one propose this to happen? The government to stop funding it but mandate all businesses maintain the entitlement? Right, good luck with that.

  • 48
    AussieAchmed
    Posted Thursday, 9 May 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Delivery of the PPL is a part of the Liberal IR policy mmm

    So it is Insdustrial and not social policy - exposed for all the ranting about it being a great social policy

    Wonder what that means? That eventually the 1.5% levy will move Govt Revenue and business will need to negotiate the same PPL scheme into Awards etc?

  • 49
    bjb
    Posted Thursday, 9 May 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Like all Tory policies, it equates a person’s fiscal position in life with their “worth”.

    Is a corporate lawyer or investment banker earning $150K+ more “high calibre” than say a science teacher ?

  • 50
    Hunt Ian
    Posted Thursday, 9 May 2013 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    And David Hand will have all his fears confirmed by seeing that I too agree with Tony’s policy. Oh dear. When unions seek reasonable parental leave policies they seek something like Tony’s policy.But they cannot get very far with small or medium businesses. Leave for having a baby should be compared with having long service leave: LSL is a break so you feel less like drowning under years of work, while parental leave is a break to bring a member of a new generation through their initial period of high dependency. Since it is so hard to get good policies from many businesses, it makes sense to have bigger australian companies pay for leave that unions will never get from many businesses. Second best, we should seek a safety net policy, such as Labor has passed.

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