news

"Children are a lifestyle choice. So why should I pay for yours?"

“To pay a primary carer 26 weeks paid parental leave is idealistic at best. To pay them on the wage they earn normally, frankly, ridiculous.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has today done a u-turn on his signature Paid Parental Leave scheme. When it was first announced, women earning $150,000 a year would have received a payment of $75,000. In April this year, the PM pared it back to to $50,000 – and now all indications are that it will now be cut back even more.

The idea to fund the payments through a 1.5 per cent levy on big business will remain, but the savings will now go towards the 50 per cent rebate for home carers, including nannies.

The Prime Minister had previously presented the $5.5 billion scheme as a “signature” policy during the election campaign. But the Labor Opposition — and some within the Prime Minister’s own Coalition Government — have slammed the planned scheme in both its forms; calling it unaffordable and inequitable.

Earlier this year, one Mamamia reader explained why she thinks the proposed ‘Rolls Royce’ paid parental leave scheme is all wrong, in all its forms.

This is what she had to say: 

—————–

There’s a reason why I can’t write this post under my real name. You see, most of my friends have kids. I have god children and two nephews and a niece I adore.

But as a 43-year-old woman without kids, it’s impossible for me to say what I really feel about the Liberal party’s proposed paid parental scheme because my parent friends would be horrified.

Before I continue, let’s get one thing straight – I love kids. I also agree that raising children is the cornerstone of society and as such, should be supported by taxpayers. To an extent, anyway.

But here’s another thing I believe strongly: all kids should be treated as equal by our government. As should the adults having them.

Which is why I am against Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave plan. Because it is not egalitarian – it is elitist. To pay a primary carer 26 weeks paid parental leave is idealistic at best. To pay them on the wage they earn normally is quite frankly, ridiculous.

Under the current paid parental scheme, set up by Labor, the government pays a baby’s primary carer at the minimum wage, currently $622.20 per week for 18 weeks. In the current economic climate, this is more than fair.

But now, the Abbott government wants to introduce a 26-week replacement wage scheme where women earning up to $100,000 each year would be paid their full salary for the period of leave, including superannuation, which could be as much as $50,000 per pregnancy.

Take into account the fact that tax payer dollars also subsidise unlimited IVF cycles for all women of any age, and you start to wonder when there will be a ‘pushing tax’ put on us all as well.

Here’s an opinion you don’t often read, but if you ask me, it’s one that’s strongly held by many of us who are too frightened of the PC police to say it out loud: children are a lifestyle choice. They are not a right. If you want them, be prepared to pay for them. Your children. Your choice.

ADVERTISEMENT

Kids cost time and money and are damn hard work. If you don’t feel you are in a position to accommodate them, even taking in to account current government subsidies, then maybe think twice about having them in the first place. Buy some condoms. Get a prescription for the pill. Consider a termination.

“Children are a lifestyle choice. They are not a right. If you want them, be prepared to pay for them. Your children. Your choice.”

Yes, it is ideal for women to be able to stay home for those important first few months of a child’s life but let’s face it, the pressure hardly stops there. There are limited daycare hours, doctors visits, school carnivals, speech nights and endless school holidays to accommodate. Kids are time-consuming.

Every minute with them is vital. Realistically – if these early months are so important, and the ensuing months don’t get any less important – shouldn’t we be also be subsidising parental leave until around a child’s 14th birthday? That time appears to be the tipping point in the development of human behaviours outside the home and, as such, impacts larger society the most.

Then again, most parents with kids that age I know would probably prefer to work.

But here’s what really gets me angry about Abbott’s plan and the seemingly ridiculous amount of attention focused on reproduction these days – having children is hardly a new concept.

Yes, it’s hard to manage in many senses but hasn’t it always been? Shouldn’t people accept that the decision to procreate will mean going without some things like holidays or a new car or a private school education in exchange for getting so much in return?

Amongst all this obsession with Generation Next is the sad fact that Generation Was is doing it tough. Too tough. Your government pension isn’t indexed to what you earned while you were working. The generations who had kids without government bonuses or complaint, who paid taxes their entire long working lives, and who are now attempting to exist below the poverty line….what about them?

It appears we are overlooking the seasoned and sage for the shiny and new in our rose-tinted designer shades of today.

This all became resounding and clear upon reading this letter in a newspaper recently from Serena Ford, Strathmore.

“What political party is going to offer something to pensioners, or is their vote not considered as worthy as that of the younger generation who constantly have money thrown at them? My parents raised their children in an era with a meagre child-endowment payment. They did not expect a baby bonus or six months’ full pay just for choosing to have children.

They didn’t need a new, shiny, black four-wheel-drive to be happy; nor did they need a house with a bedroom, bathroom and living room for each member of the family. They had no expectation that the government should fund childcare so that someone else could raise their children. They accepted that they went without some things. Now, like many pensioners, they have to make choices about what they can afford. How much more greedy and selfish can society become?

It’s a good question Serena. I fear that the answer is, sadly, as much as we will allow it.

What do you think about the Prime Minister’s backflip? Would you like to see a greater focus from politicians on our senior citizens?

For really smart, bang-on political analysis, don’t miss the latest episode of our podcast. This week, Jamila Rizvi is on with Kate Leaver and Mia Freedman to talk about Prime Minister Tony Abbott, his unpopularity, and whether his will be a one-term government.
Listen to the episode right here, right now:

While you’re at it, like Mamamia OutLoud on Facebook for updates, and subscribe to Mamamia Out Loud on iTunes to get all the episodes.

00:00 / ???