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Tanya Plibersek explains why she was kicked out of Question Time.

In her latest Mamamia column, Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Tanya Plibersek gives us the low-down on the Government’s proposed paid parental leave cuts. 

Today I got kicked out of question time for telling the truth. Again.

Last night’s Budget includes some extra spending on childcare which no doubt will be welcomed by families when it starts in two years’ time.

Tanya Plibersek’s face may have looked something like this when she was kicked out of Question Time.

But the extra spending comes with two big catches: $3.5 billion of childcare spending will be paid for by $5.5 billion of cuts to Family Tax Benefits and $1 billion of cuts to Paid Parental Leave. If Tony Abbott gets his way 1.5 million families will have their family tax benefits cut, and 80,000 new mums each year risk losing some or all of their Paid Parental Leave.

At the moment, eligible working mums get 18 weeks Parental Leave paid at the minimum wage. That’s the scheme Labor introduced when we were in Government.

But some mums do better because their employers give them additional weeks of paid leave.

Woolworths workers get an additional eight weeks leave. Victorian nurses get an additional 10 weeks leave. Myer workers get six weeks, and McDonald’s workers get eight weeks, for example.

Me? Trouble? No…

This extra time is good for mothers and babies. It gives mums extra time to recover from birth, to bond with their babies and to establish breastfeeding. Healthy mothers and healthy babies are good for our country.

Now the Abbott Government is proposing that if your employer gives you parental leave, you will lose government funded leave to the same value. For any additional leave you get from your employer, you will lose the same amount of paid leave from the government.

The government is trying to portray mums who want to spend more time with their babies as rorters and fraudsters.

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Social Security Minister Scott Morrison said extra time for mums to bond with their babies “is a rort.”

When asked by Laurie Oakes whether he thought it was fraud, Treasurer Joe Hockey said “well, it is.”

But Labor’s scheme was always designed to be complemented by employer schemes. We want employers to top up the minimum 18 week payment.

Spending time at home with kids rarely feels like this.

Working mums and dads have included extra parental leave in their enterprise bargains with employers, but they have sacrificed pay increases to get it.

Employers have signed up to extra parental leave because it helps them attract and retain good workers, but no employer will keep paying parental leave if they know that the government will just take the same amount away from mums on maternity leave, leaving families no better off.

Sadly this government just has no idea about parental leave. Back in the day the Prime Minister said Australia would have paid parental leave over his dead body.

For political reasons he then did a 180: he wanted a rolled-gold scheme that gave the biggest benefits to the highest earners, so that “women of calibre” like bank executives got more money than ordinary wage earners like bank tellers. Now the Treasurer and Social Security Minister are saying that women who are lucky enough to have an employer who gives them a few additional weeks of leave to bond with their tiny new babies are rorters and fraudsters.

Maybe these blokes should try a few weeks at home with a baby and see what a “rort” it is.

The Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP is Deputy Opposition Leader and the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.

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Why we’ll keep fighting for same sex marriage: “Because almost equal is not good enough.”

 

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