You will have heard and read over the weekend that the Turnbull Government is going to undermine Australia’s paid parental leave scheme, claiming that women taking up the scheme are ‘double-dipping’.
This isn’t the first time the Coalition have attempted to undermine this hard-won workplace right which acknowledges the need for women to recover from their pregnancy and to bond with their child ahead of returning to work. And this isn’t the first time the Coalition have attempted to paint women that access their paid parental leave entitlement as ‘double-dippers’ with former PM Tony Abbott and former Treasurer Joe Hockey declaring the scheme allowed for double dipping.
Unfortunately there is nothing new in the latest attack on paid parental leave by the Coalition. It’s discouraging but not surprising that the Turnbull Government has little regard for women in the workforce. It is also telling in how the Turnbull Government views workers as it pursues a hard-won workplace right but is completely unwilling to tackle corporate tax dodgers and continues to give high income earners further tax cuts.
It wasn’t that long ago that Tony Abbott was arguing, as a signature policy, for 6 months of paid parental leave with full income replacement up to $75,000. Now we find ourselves discussing changes to paid parental leave that will see nearly half of all eligible families losing out.
And the worst part is that the Turnbull Government continues to claim women accessing paid parental leave are somehow ‘double-dipping’ and ‘rorting’ the system.
What’s been announced is essentially the same as the cuts proposed in the Abbott Government’s 2015 Budget; a major winding back of the paid parental leave scheme that working Australians have fought for through bargaining and lobbying over decades. And for the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Social Services Minister to say (repeatedly) that some families are double-dipping is extremely disingenuous to say the least, especially since it was proven not to be the case when this claim was first made in 2015.
The paid parental leave scheme was always designed to be a complementary measure to those schemes already offered by employers. And where those employer schemes didn’t cover 26 weeks of paid parental leave, the government topped up those provisions. No families are double-dipping. None.
But if these proposed changes go through the Parliament it will result in tens of thousands of families losing out and forcing parents back into the workforce sooner without the availability of adequate childcare options. This will only cause greater stress and could actually result in a reduction in workforce participation as women, predominantly the primary care-giver, are unable to find childcare. Ultimately it will make it more difficult for families to make ends meet.
It also says a lot about the real agenda behind political parties like One Nation and Family First, who claim to support working families but have reportedly agreed to support the ruination of paid parental leave which would see the families they purport to represent being punished for accessing a scheme as it was intended.
In the end what was meant to be a gold-standard, key signature, Paid Parental Leave scheme has been up-ended for a dismantling of a hard-won scheme. In all of this it is important to remember that the Paid Parental Leave scheme wasn’t a gift from government or from employers. It was won due to the decades-long fight by union members like you.
The Union remains confident that these measures are very unlikely to be passed by the Senate.
But to make absolutely sure we continue to enjoy this hard-won entitlement, sign the petition telling the Senate to save paid parental leave at: http://www.australianunions.org.au/ppl