Labor’s parental leave plan good for all parents

Terry J. Mills writes: Re. “Cox: let’s acknowledge Abbott’s parental leave plan is better” (yesterday). Eva Cox seems to confuse Workplace Entitlements paid by employers, such as annual leave, sick leave and long service leave with taxpayer funded benefits distributed by the government such as the existing parental leave scheme.

The idea of the existing Labor initiated scheme was to provide equity within the community (i.e. all citizens are treated equally) and there is the implied encouragement for employers to “top up” the government payments to normal income, which many employers have done. The Coalition scheme seeks to abandon all efforts to achieve equity by creating entitlements based on status and income so that Mary who is a checkout chick on $35,000 pa receives $17,500 over six months and Pru who is a lawyer on $120,000 pa receives $60,000 over the same six months. Eva, explain to Mary why her baby is worth $42,500 less than Pru’s over the same six-month period of maternal leave.

Good news for Malaysia’s opposition

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “The ugly (and fruitless) racism of Malaysian politics” (yesterday). Professor Damien Kingsbury made a good fist of explaining the Malaysian elections, certainly far better than the ABC etc. I would add to his commentary that, there may be gerrymandering, but differential electorate size is actually malapportionment. There is clearly some malapportionment in Malaysia, but there are some other factors at work, too. In this election the opposition gained 20 seats, while losing 13 to the government. If the opposition were as overwhelming a force and riding a wave of change we have been lead to believe, you would expect all the gains to be one way. Also the government won back a state (Kedah) from the opposition. Of the 15 states the government outpolled the opposition in 11; the opposition won only four plus Kuala Lumpur.

The government seems to have a better spread in its support around the nation. Its gains were in five states, losses in nine, with three states having changes in both directions. The opposition on my calculations suffers slightly from larger electorates, but more so due to a significantly larger concentration of its supporters, which means it wastes about 274,000 votes.

There is good news for the opposition too, if its vote were 2% higher it would have won the 23 seats to gain a majority and government. Needless to say the coverage of the election would be different, too.
However over the next five years, I expect some difficulties in opposition ranks, a coalition of an urban centrist party, a Chinese-dominated party and an extreme religious party seems unlikely bedfellows (Anwar Ibrahim’s background in religious politics of long ago before he was himself induced to join UMNO seems to have been airbrushed out of coverage). I wonder how they would function in government?

Racing to conclusions

Richard Zachariah writes: Re. “Keane: shame on the media’s obsession with the Singlehouse ‘scandal’” (Tuesday). Who and what is Bernard Keane? His “Racing is a corrupt industry that profits from the stupidity of gamblers and the infliction of pain on animals” makes me think we have granted freedom of speech/writing to far too many. Please Crikey give subscribers a break from the pain of reading someone like Keane. It is he who corrupts journalism, if that is what he is.