Apologies to my international audience – this is a very Australian-centric post. It’s also an uncharacteristic political post, but sometimes you have to mix things up.
As many Australians know our government, under former prime minister Tony Abbott (weren’t we all relieved when that budgy-smuggler wearing goof
was pushed bowed out) accused parents of “double-dipping” when it came to our paid parental leave (PPL) entitlements – a term which made us all double check our entitlements, entitlements that meant we could have both government and workplace PPL. This resulted in proposed reforms to the what were still fairly new PPL allowances. Now, the current government is proposing to “soften” those radical reforms (see The Australian, December 16). Below are my thoughts on this – and this comes after I have had my child, so I might not even ever be impacted by this, but I write this for everyone who will!
Oh, kindly government, how nice you are to “soften” the “double dipping” crackdown on PPL. Never mind the fact that the PPL was designed to ensure parents had the option to spend time with their children in the early months, never mind the fact that the PPL was always going to be used in conjunction with what companies offer. Softening? No. This is just enforcing a cap of 18 weeks of paid leave for parents. For me, it’s the difference between having 24 weeks of income, and 18. For others, the impacts are even greater. It also means that if benevolent companies want to ensure their workers get more time off paid, they have to pay more than 18 weeks of parental leave, there are few companies that are going to do this. What you’re essentially doing is capping parents, restricting them, and making it extremely difficult for employers to extend a welcoming hand to parents, to families, to potential mothers and those wonderful women who you want to actively participate in the workforce.
This is penalising working families. Like it’s not hard enough when some of us work solely to pay for outrageous childcare costs, you have to come in and take what the Labor party worked so hard to give us – a fair (and let’s face it, rather small in comparison to that of other nations) government parental leave policy. Next you’ll be targeting the childcare rebates. Oh, wait … you already are.
What we have now is a situation where working parents in difficult financial situations can only afford to take 18 weeks off while childcare wait lists can be up to two years, and costs are prohibitive. How, I ask you, does this work? How does this help working families? How does this help workforce participation? We are now in a situation where most working families were better off under the pre-PPL baby bonus scheme, introduced by your very own liberal party.
I’m not going to lie, I’m not a liberal party voter, but I am one of those people who agreed that current PM Malcolm Turnbull was as left as liberals get, and felt hopeful he would look out for us. It hasn’t taken long for my long-held political cynicism to resurface with force.