A letter to the Social Services Minister.
Two weeks ago you described Paid Parental Leave as a “first world problem”. Given you’re a minister in a ‘first world’ country it struck me as a curious dismissal. If you’re not interested in tackling first world issues, what kind of issues are you expecting to tackle?
Aside from that little quirk of logic though, what also struck me was your apparent lack of understanding about Paid Parental Leave. After tuning into your ABC radio interview earlier today, I had the same thought. You’re a smart man, you’re being touted as PM-material, how can this be? Is there no one in your department, or around the Cabinet table, who understands this policy?
It seems not, which is why I am compelled to write.
Right now you’re attempting to pass legislation to cut Paid Parental Leave entitlements to a number of families. To banish the ‘double-dipping’ rort that some families have been accessing as they are perfectly entitled and expected to.
Modelling by YWCA and Fair Agenda shows that nurses, teachers, ambulances and retail workers would be hardest hit by the proposed change.
The Human Rights Commission has suggested the proposed amendment might amount to a breach of Australia’s human rights obligations. Today, you told the ABC you’re listening “very carefully” to the cross-benchers’ concerns in this regard. May I suggest you also listen very carefully to the parents who will appear at today’s Senate Inquiry?
“When someone is already getting $11,800 from their employer, the taxpayer won’t be paying them an additional $11,800.”
What’s wrong with that? Why shouldn’t they get both?
In Australia, the government provides 18 weeks at the minimum wage to new parents, and this can be accessed in addition to any paid leave employers provide.
Accessing both has been touted as a waste of money and a gross abuse of privileges (which is pretty rich considering some of the privileges publicly-elected representatives have been helping themselves to in recent times).
Australia’s current PPL scheme has twin objectives: enhancing child and maternal well-being and supporting parental work force participation. It’s not a warm, fuzzy cash grab. Why would 32 out of 33 OECD countries provide Paid Parental Leave if it weren’t a legitimate investment?
The aim is to extend total paid leave to as close as possible to a full 26 weeks recommended by the World Health Organisation and the NHMRC.
This creates optimal health benefits whilst also facilitating the continued work force participation of mothers. ‘Double-dipping’ was implemented because it’s a cost efficient way to meet these objectives.