You probably heard that the Australian Greens announced their Paid Parental Leave policy yesterday. I just had a look and it is fantastic. Here is a summary:
Their Scheme provides 6 months of paid leave at 100% of the primary carer’s regular wage, capped at $100,000 per annum ($50K for the 6 months). This recognises that paid parental leave should be a workplace entitlement, not a welfare payment. It also recognises the income realities for most mums without excessively burdening the taxpayer.
It includes superannuation contributions to ensure women are not disadvantaged later in life for taking parenting leave. This is a serious omission from our current scheme and I am delighted to see it included in the Greens policy.
It provides two additional weeks of leave for the secondary carer at 100% of their regular wage, capped at $100,000 per annum which means the second parent, often dads, will have secure and fairly remunerated time to bond with their new child. Abbott’s scheme does not offer this and interestingly the media didn’t seem interested to point this out. This is really important as it helps to embed the message that we live in a society where men and women play equal roles in the home and workplace.
It is fully funded by a 1.5% business levy on the 3140 companies that have a taxable income above $5 million, plus an achievable additional government of $1.9 billion over the forward estimates. Business groups are complaining of course, but really, they aren’t doing it hard in comparison to the rest of the OECD who generally have better schemes than what’s currently offered to mums.
The media missed a few other points of detail. The Australian Greens stated that they will back legislative amendments to link the leave payment to the entitlement for parental leave so that there’s no room for misapplication, and they will also back amendments to strengthen the right for mothers to return to work with genuine flexibility.
While I am thankful to Labour for their introduction of the Paid Parental Scheme in the first place, it is time for them to step up and offer their mark II.