kids

'The Budget was not the sales pitch working mums were hoping to see.'

In the lead up to last night’s budget there was some media coverage suggesting that Treasurer Scott Morrison would include a suite of initiatives aimed at wooing back working mums.

The Budget disappointed (Image via @iStock).

Unfortunately, this appears to have all been a ruse, as in actual fact working mums ended up as some of the biggest losers out of last night’s budget.

There was no glitzy Turnbull-Morrison sales pitch to Aussie mums – the message heard loud and clear last night is that they have little intention of making our working lives easier with cost relief for childcare delayed for another year until July 2018 and cuts to paid parental leave locked in.

Let’s recap on how we’ve been duped

1. That big multi-billion childcare package (that has not seen the light of day)

From the very beginning of this Abbott/Turnbull government we were told time and time again that they would overhaul the childcare sector to make it more affordable, accessible and flexible. We’ve been promised this year on year.

It was only just last year in the 2015 budget that childcare was the government’s feature piece with a promise of an additional $3.5 billion to go towards making childcare more affordable for thousands of families.

Remember, this was their big Jobs for Families package – designed to help more mums get back in to the workforce.

We were told that their childcare reforms would shave off $30 a week in out-of-pocket childcare costs for thousands of families.

So many of us desperately needed to see some level of relief as childcare fees have continued to skyrocket whilst government subsidy support has stalled since the 2014 budget.

Now we’re told they can’t do anything to relieve the childcare cost pressure for another two years!

Out-of-pocket costs for childcare have gone up almost 25 per cent for some families under the term of this government – we actually can’t afford to wait until 2018 Mr. Turnbull!

ADVERTISEMENT

The reality now will be thousands of mums being forced to stay out of work entrenching our shameful gender pay and super gaps.

Disappointingly, helping more mums get back into work is clearly no longer the Turnbull government’s priority. In fact, many would start feeling that childcare may very well follow the same demise as that big signature paid parental leave scheme we were all sold in the lead up to the last federal election…

2. Paid Parental Leave (PPL) – what a roller coaster ride this has been!

If you have no idea what you’re entitled to when it comes to PPL, you’re not the only one – with the roller coaster ride that has been the Abbott/Turnbull government’s policy position on PPL – how can anyone be certain?

Let’s re-cap

  • What you’re entitled to right now: The current government PPL policy provides women on incomes less than $150,000 a year to 18 weeks paid at the minimum wage. Women who have paid leave through their employer can use the government leave to extend the time they can afford to stay home with their brand new baby. The policy was designed to complement employer based leave as a way to incentivise more employers to give PPL and as a way to help as many mums as possible afford a full 6 months with bub as recommended by the World Health Organisation.
  • What we thought we were going to get when we voted for Tony Abbott last election: In the weeks leading up to the 2013 Federal Election Tony Abbott announced that under an Abbott government by 1 July 2015 every working woman would have access to 6 months paid parental leave at their wage. But once they came to government this policy was royally dumped.
  • Our 2015 Mother’s Day present from then Treasurer Joe Hockey: On Mother’s Day last year, after having scrapped Abbott’s signature paid parental leave policy, Treasurer Hockey announces an end to so called ‘double dipping’ declaring only those who don’t have employer paid leave can access the government’s PPL. This would have meant close to 80,000 new mums (and dads) would lose 18 weeks of time they could afford to be at home with their new baby.
  • Where Mr. Turnbull is currently at: essentially he still thinks many of us are ‘double dippers’ and that this age of entitlement should end. While acknowledging there is no support in this current Parliament to support cutting back PPL, last night’s budget confirmed that if re-elected a Turnbull Government will seek to amend the PPL to keep a maximum of 18 weeks. What this means is if you get 6 weeks paid leave from your employer you’ll only be eligible for 12 weeks, not 18 weeks, from the government. Effectively, still taking away the time new mums can afford to spend with their new babies.

Mr Turnbull’s sales pitch to working mums

Vote for my team!

  • So we can continue to stall on addressing the childcare cost crisis making it impossible for you to afford to return to work when you have young children, and
  • So we can cut back the time you’re able to afford to spend with your newborn baby!

So it would seem like Mr Turnbull doesn’t really want the working mum vote.

A recent ReachTEL poll of over 1000 working mums from across Australia revealed that about 18 per cent of working mums have yet to make up their minds as to who they’ll vote for on 2 July and whose votes are currently up for grabs.

Mr Turnbull clearly hasn’t fixed the Liberal’s’ ‘women problem’ as hoped when we took over the top job from Tony Abbott.

Arguably, this leaves a window of opportunity open for Shorten and his team to demonstrate a strong contrast between their vision for supporting working mums.

And the spotlight will shine even brighter on Labor now, given polls show Shorten may very will be our next Prime Minister.

So Mr Shorten you’re on notice - working mums will be focusing on what you, as an alternative Prime Minister, has to offer – so make your budget reply count.

Our votes are absolutely up for grabs for Shorten if he has the right policies to take them as it would appear Mr. Turnbull doesn’t want them.

Mind you, time hasn’t run out for Mr Turnbull – surely he can learn what he needs to do if he wants to keep the keys to the lodge. Surely.

Jo Briskey is the Executive Director of The Parenthood, Australia’s leading parent advocacy and campaigning organisation.

Jo Briskey (Image provided).

The Parenthood has been campaigning against the cuts to PPL since they were first announced by then Treasurer Joe Hockey and whilst pleased that these cuts are currently on the backburner, will continue campaign until the Turnbull Government takes them off the table altogether.

The Parenthood also has been very active in campaigning for greater investment to make childcare more affordable and accessible for Australian families.

You can join The Parenthood's PPL and childcare campaigns today at www.theparenthood.org.au

00:00 / ???