politics

Everything you need to know about paid parental leave before you vote.

This week was a bit of a non-event on the campaign trail. By now, you are probably totally sick of the whole thing. It might be hard to see how any of it impacts on your daily life.

Following the terrible events in Orlando this week, I’m sure many of you reflected on the madness of American gun laws and the ‘right to bear arms’. Every time a dreadful crime such as this takes place, I’m grateful that in Australia, a person filled with hate can’t simply walk into a shop, and walk out with a semi automatic rifle.

"There are things we take for granted in Australia that we should be very grateful for."

In that regard, politics does matter. It matters to us every day, especially when it all just passes us by. There are things we take for granted in Australia that we should be very grateful for.

Given it was a fairly quiet week out on the hustings, I thought I’d have a look at a key issue for anyone who is pregnant or planning to have a baby.

Last week we looked at the childcare policies announced during the election campaign, but what about Paid Parental Leave? What's going on there?

To understand the PPL policies, we need to go back to 2011, when Labor first introduced the scheme which remains in place today. Stay with me here, the whole thing is convoluted - I know when I was pregnant I could sleep standing up.

The current scheme is 18 weeks paid at the minimum wage ($656 before tax per week.)

To be eligible, you need to have worked for ten of the past thirteen months, accumulating 330 working hours (a bit more than a day each week for ten months.)

"Thankfully, these changes never passed the Senate." Image via iStock.

In 2013, Dad and Partner Pay was also introduced so that dads or partners of primary carers could bond and spend time with their baby. This is two weeks leave paid at minimum wage and this remains in place.

Labor introduced the current PPL scheme, not to replace existing arrangements with your employer, but to complement work based arrangements. The World Health Organisation recommends six months of exclusive breast feeding, so workplace schemes are still very important - the Government scheme was never intended to diminish hard-fought workplace maternity leave entitlements.

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Enter Tony Abbott in the 2013 election. He was elected with a commitment to increase PPL to six months of paid leave, at a mother’s current level of pay. At the time, he said that his plan would support ‘women of calibre’ to return to work. This promise was broken in the 2015 Budget and the Government did a total u-turn, announcing a new policy to prevent women from accessing both the Government and employer schemes. These new mums were referred to as ‘double-dippers’. The Abbott Government’s new policy was that women could either access the 18 week Government scheme, or their work scheme (but not both.)

Thankfully, these changes never passed the Senate.

"One of these payments, a baby-bonus style increase to Family Tax Benefit (B) of $1000 was agreed to by Malcolm Turnbull when he became Prime Minister in a deal with the National Party." Image via Getty.

Enter Malcolm Turnbull. When Mr Turnbull became Prime Minister he announced a slightly amended policy. The new Liberal policy was that women could access both employer and Government schemes to a maximum of 18 weeks. For example, if your employer pays 12 weeks leave, you can ‘top up’ that leave with the Government scheme. If your employer pays 18 weeks or more, you are only entitled to receive that payment.

This remains the Liberal Party policy but it hasn't passed the Senate. Whether it passes the Senate after the election is in the lap of the gods, but Labor and the Greens remain opposed to it.

There are a couple of additional payments you may be eligible for if you are not working and are receiving Family Tax Benefit (Part A and B).

One of these payments, a baby-bonus style increase to Family Tax Benefit (B) of $1000 was agreed to by Malcolm Turnbull when he became Prime Minister in a deal with the National Party. This is due to be introduced next month, but is opposed by Labor and will be scrapped if they are elec

So there you have it - these are the two major party policies on Paid Parental Leave and baby payments.

Two and a bit weeks to go until sausage sizzle democracy day.

Katie is a regular guest on ABC Radio Melbourne. Right now she’s mum to a four-month-old, so she eats a lot of cake and watches plenty of Friday Night Lights.

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