On Bob Day

David Arthur writes: Re. “Should Bob Day even be in the Senate?” (yesterday).  Thanks Bernard Keane for your piece yesterday. The accompanying picture was also interesting. Was that a bible nurtured in Day’s right hand as he ‘toiled’ and presumably sought heavenly guidance at his Senate desk? I expect it was and it’s no surprise really. The hypocrisy and amorality of people such as Day and the parallel universe they seem to inhabit is so startling that it becomes absurdly funny.   

On paid parental leave

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Cracking down on parental leave ‘double dipping’ a classic Liberal bait and switch” (yesterday). Eva as usual covered the PPL subject reasonably well. Perhaps as our political process works as it does, it is highly likely whatever arrangements in place (however deficient) will remain in place, notwithstanding the need for improvement.

Back to history, PPL is not new. It was first introduced in 1883 in Germany. Australia is a real latecomer to this field. There is no issue with the social and economic merit of a PPL scheme. As for the problems, where Australia is relative to about 75-80% of the world’s countries we have: 1. one of the least generous PPL schemes in the world due to shortness of the period of leave and low level of income payment; 2. we have probably one of the most skewed (and most regressive schemes): 3. with lack of superannuation we reinforce the disadvantage women suffer from absence from the workforce.

Given the (opportunistic and vested interest focused) opposition of the ALP (and the inherent Senate and vested interest resistance to making changes even as part of a package with beneficial elements), we will probably see the existing inadequate and unfair arrangement continue for many years. This does not require a crystal ball, but the resistance of winners from the existing system (heavily public service, with replacement wages and super, and top up of the PPL) will win the day. Those who receive the basic PPL (and no super contributions) will be stuck in second gear, and those who for whatever reason fall through the cracks, will get nothing like they do now.

The inadequacies and unfairness inherent in the original 2011 reforms were highlighted by the Coalition Spokeswoman of the time Dr Sharman Stone. Sadly, nothing has improved, and all the worst features persist. Alas we are in the same PPL rut.

Peter Fray

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