Paid parental leave changes won't have support of NXT, senator Nick Xenophon confirms.

By political reporter Jane Norman.

The Federal Government’s planned changes to paid parental leave have been thrown into doubt after the Nick Xenophon Team confirmed it will not support the proposal in its current form.

Key points:

  • Senator Xenophon says NXT “made a commitment” to keep the PPL scheme intact prior to last election
  • The proposed changes would have saved $1.2b over four years
  • Senator Xenophon willing to negotiate with Government to make scheme “more equitable”

NXT leader Nick Xenophon — who controls a bloc of three votes — initially indicated his party was open to supporting the changes, which would prevent new parents from accessing the full 18-week government scheme if their employer also offered paid leave.

But Senator Xenophon has now hardened his position after acknowledging that his NXT colleague, Skye Kakoschke-Moore, made a pledge during the election campaign to protect the existing scheme.

“We made a commitment prior to the last election to make sure the scheme was kept intact, that’s still our commitment,” he said.

The changes would have saved $1.2 billion over four years by reducing or cutting payments to about 80,000 new parents.

The South Australian senator said he was still willing to negotiate with the Government to make the scheme “fairer” and “more equitable” — particularly for low-income earners — but would not outline what amendments could be made.

With Labor and the Greens firmly opposed to the policy, the Government needs the support of the NXT, One Nation Party and crossbenchers David Leyonhjelm and Derryn Hinch to pass the legislation.

Ahead of his meeting with the Treasurer this week, Senator Xenophon took a swipe at the Coalition over its handling of paid parental leave, noting the several policy shifts since the 2013 election.

“A couple of years ago, Tony Abbott wanted to give us a Rolls Royce paid parental leave scheme. Right now what the Government wants us to go to is one that is a bit like an East German Trabant,” he told Sky News.

“There doesn’t seem to be much policy consistency there on the part of the Government.”

Currently, new parents earning $150,000 or less are eligible to receive 18 weeks, at the minimum wage, from the Government on top of any scheme their employer offers.

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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