With under two days to go before Australian’s go to the polls for the Federal Election, the Liberal Party of Australia have finally released their fiscal costings. This comes with a “Do it Yourself” message to the Australian citizen to work through their numbers. If you want to know what the bottom line means for ordinary Australians, you’ll have to work it out for yourself or trust the politicians. As part of the Coalition’s Policy for Women is a plan to help working mums with “A Real Paid Parental Leave Scheme”. The Australian Liberal Party are promoting their maternity scheme to women as a selling point for this year’s federal election.
Maternity leave plan
The Coalition plan will fund:
- working mums up to the tune of $75,000 dollars
- a 26 week leave period
- in addition to ongoing salary payments, superannuation
- all working mums taking maternity leave from 1 July 2015, even executives earning over $150,000
Supporters of the Coalition’s maternity scheme say: it is a working woman’s right.
I believe, it is a scheme to allow the wealthy to continue living a lavish lifestyle from government funds.
Maternity leave a working woman’s right
The Coalition’s maternity plan states, “Paid parental leave should be a workplace entitlement not a welfare payment.” This is not a scheme that an employer has to pay to an employee from their own revenue. This is a government funded plan. It uses money from taxes to fund it. Since it is a government funded plan it automatically becomes a social welfare plan for all mums on maternity leave.
When the Coalition first came out with this policy just over four weeks ago, they stated that an additional tax on large corporations of 1.5% would fully fund their paid parental leave scheme. This initial funding plan that Joe Hockey announced has since been debunked as a lie. In the release of their Fiscal Budget Impact on Thursday, it now includes $1.6M of Government spending and revenue. I’m taking a guess this is the cut of ‘waste’ the Coalition keep mentioning, but haven’t actually explained to the Australian voters. It also includes money funded by State governments, WA has already said “No.”
If it was a genuine workplace entitlement, then instead of the government paying for the scheme it would be included in the National Employment Standards (NES) as an employer’s duty. Some corporations and private employers like Cath Ed already provide parental leave schemes for their employees. A woman on a high end salary should be able to negotiate a parental leave scheme with their employer as part of their salary. If the Coalition believe it is a workplace entitlement and not a welfare payment, this extravagant maternity scheme should not be paid for through government funds. It should be paid by the employer to provide as a workplace entitlement. This is not what the Coalition is proposing. Instead, a female executive who earns over $150,000 as an annual salary will be given a social welfare payment of $75,000 for 26 weeks.
As an Australian you will be paying the wealthy to stay at home.
You will be paying for them to continue living the style they have become accustomed too.
Do executives on grand salaries really need an extravagant government paid scheme for six months?
An argument could be made that taking this scheme to a government level helps to protect the hiring and firing of women in the workforce.
A woman who wants to take time off work for maternity leave, already faces discrimination in the workplace. There is no denying that:
- a pregnant woman finds it difficult to gain employment
- employers don’t like giving anyone time off work
- employers have to replace the position temporarily
- employers need to retrain the female worker on their return
- asking an employer to pay two salaries for the one position is met with criticism
Women are already paid less than their equivalent male counterparts. Yet, a woman on a high end salary is earning that high salary because the employer values their
Valuable employees are harder to replace. Smart employers will provide incentives to keep them.
An employee on a low end salary on the other hand does not have the same appeal and is easier to replace.
If the Coalition is serious about their scheme being a working place entitlement and not a welfare scheme for the rich than
- the scheme would also be available to men for exactly the same conditions
- a family should be able to choose which parent takes paternity leave
- it would be included in the NES with government assistance to small and some medium sized business
Allowing either partner to be eligible for paternity leave can reduce the discrimination in the workplace. Asking questions during recruitment about a person’s family life is illegal in Australia. The employer would not know which parent the paternity leave scheme would apply too.
The Coalition is being deceitful
The Coalition is not being honest when they state this is a woman’s workplace right.
As a government and tax funded scheme, it is a social welfare scheme for all Australian women no matter their financial status.
The Coalition are using the scheme as desperate grab to win female voters. The ongoing sexist remarks and alienation of women made by members of the Australian Liberal Party in Parliament, especially by Tony Abbott has continued through the election.
If you are earning a considerably large salary do you need a government paid scheme to help you take maternity leave? No.
Is maintaining a lavish style a right or a privilege?
When you decide to have children, you should be considering the sacrifice needed to raise that child. I was thankful for the baby bonus of $4,000 when I gave birth to my daughter. It complimented the four weeks annual leave I had put away, and the savings I had made with the help of my husband. At the time I gave birth, we earned an annual income of $80,000 collectively. I was able to take just over five very comfortable months of maternity leave before heading back to work.
Think about it. Make your vote count this Saturday. Do you really want your tax money to fund the maternity leave of the rich?