Milk of kind­ness dry­ing up

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS -

IN the wake of So­cial Ser­vices Min­is­ter Chris­tian Porter’s rein­tro­duc­tion of leg­is­la­tion to re­duce ac­cess to 18 weeks Paid Parental Leave (PPL) for new mothers, ex­perts warn a re­duc­tion in en­ti­tle­ments is tak­ing us back­wards, while lo­cal mem­bers of par­lia­ment say the changes will be more eq­ui­table for em­ploy­ees.

Curtin Uni­ver­sity As­so­ci­ate Professor in the Depart­ment of Tax­a­tion He­len Hodg­son said the bill would put un­nec­es­sary pres­sure on women, and could re­duce work place rein­te­gra­tion and men­tal health.

“The orig­i­nal pur­pose was al­ways for (PPL) to be com­ple­men­tary to any­thing the em­ployer was pro­vid­ing,” Dr Hodg­son said.

“(Chris­tian Porter) is wrong when he says PPL is about get­ting women back into the work­force: it’s a pol­icy about health and well­be­ing and al­low­ing women the time to pre­pare to re-en­ter with­out the fi­nan­cial pres­sure.

“The best way to en­cour­age a woman back is to sup­port them… some eval­u­a­tions say PPL top­ping up to 26 weeks gets women back into the work­force sooner.”

Tangney MHR Ben Mor­ton said chang­ing the leg­is­la­tion was about eq­uity.

“The Coali­tion pol­icy makes paid parental leave more eq­ui­table and bet­ter tar­gets tax­pay­ers’ money to peo­ple who don’t re­ceive paid parental leave from their em­ployer, or who only have mod­est em­ployer-pro­vided ar­range­ments,” he said.

He said only those with gen­er­ous em­ployer schemes – es­ti­mated to be 4 per cent – would lose out on a Fed­eral sup­ple­ment.

“Tax­payer-funded paid parental leave for a par­ent with­out ac­cess to any em­ployer scheme re­mains un­changed; they re­ceive 18 weeks at the min­i­mum wage, roughly $12,000,” he said.

Dr Hodg­son re­jected women were “dou­ble-dip­ping”, say­ing peo­ple were ask­ing the wrong ques­tions.

“Peo­ple seem to think women seeking PPL are get­ting more money than they al­ready earn but that is not the case,” she said.

“The scheme is 18 weeks at min­i­mum wage on the back of what an em­ployee offers top­ping it up to 26 weeks off; it’s ap­pro­pri­ate to re­fer to (PPL) as a sup­ple­ment.”

United Voice WA sec­re­tary Carolyn Smith said “Aus­tralian women have one of the least gen­er­ous paid parental leave schemes in the world” and the cuts would put Aus­tralia fur­ther be­hind.

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