In a patently cynical attempt to relive its past glory, the Gillard government this weekend used Fathers’ Day to announce that it will extend parental leave to dads.
Back on Mothers’ Day in 2009, the Rudd government won almost universal plaudits by announcing an 18 week paid parental leave scheme. In the lead up to the 2010 election the policy was still seen as such a vote winner that Tony Abbott flagged his own extravagant six month scheme, reversing his previous conviction that parental leave would be introduced ‘over his dead body’.
More than a year later, this latest addition of paternity leave - essentially feel-good middle class welfare in search of an evidence base - shows just how anxious to revive its flagging popularity the government has become.
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When a friend told me I was mentioned in The Punch, I looked forward to reading the article because I associated The Punch with Punch, the British weekly magazine of humour. Instead of wit, I found the article by Tanja Kovac in The Punch yet another inaccurate diatribe against pro-lifers.
Tanja asks where are Archbishop Hart, Margaret Tighe and Babette Francis? Archbishop Hart is very possibly on his knees praying for you and for the many social welfare agencies of his Archdiocese.
Tanja, just look up the phone book under “Catholic” and you will see the long list of activities undertaken by the Catholic Church to help those in need. Ever heard of “The Vinnies” (the St. Vincent de Paul Society)? Or Mother Teresa’s “Missionaries of Charity”? As for Margaret Tighe, like me she is probably working at a computer replying to tiresome articles from those who don’t bother to get their facts straight.
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Babies have a nasty habit of getting in the way of your career. Just ask Shelley Craft.
The host of Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show admitted in a weekend newspaper interview that she went back to work just two weeks after giving birth.
“There was no maternity leave,” she told the Sunday Telegraph. “Either I came back to work or someone else filled in for me.”
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It just doesn’t sound right – a church that wants to stop incentives to breed.
But that’s exactly what’s happening with the Anglicans. They want to get rid of “any policy that provides an incentive specifically and primarily to increase Australia’s population, notably the baby bonus”.
Even stranger, despite an inbuilt desire to disagree with any religious views on reproduction, I reckon they’re right.
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I find it amazing that policymakers have oversimplified the paid parental leave debate, saying it will increase the workforce participation rate.
When Westpac and St George introduced paid parental leave, it wasn’t necessarily to get women back from maternity leave, but to get women into those companies over other companies. They knew that if they had something that NAB or CBA didn’t have, St George and Westpac become ‘employers of choice’.
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Across the nation, bins are ringing with the sound of discarded contraceptives as women prepare to embrace motherhood for the princely sum of $570-odd a week.
Well, that’s what Australians opposed to the Government’s paid parental leave scheme seem to think. There is a perception that this is just welfare, another baby bonus, a bribe to have children.
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From the moment the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, Australia will begin summoning in a new generation – let’s call them Generation Fair – the first group of young Australians born under a universal scheme to support their parents through their first few months.
If you believe some, there will be an influx in the early hours of mothers desperate to hold back their child to join this select group.
Having gone through the rigours of childbirth myself, I doubt that – but I do accept these kids will be fortunate to be members of this new club.
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On 1 January 2011 Australia will get its first ever national government-funded Paid Parental Leave scheme. This is a historic reform which will benefit not just mums, dads and babies, but also businesses.
In designing our Paid Parental Leave scheme, the Australian Government engaged business as part of the process. We wanted to ensure the scheme is not only fair to business, but helps employers retain valuable and skilled staff.
Having a baby is for many people part of balancing everyday work and family life. That’s why the Government had designed our Paid Parental Leave scheme to be delivered as a workplace entitlement, just like annual leave or sick leave.
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The Rudd Government’s paid parental leave scheme appallingly places prisoners on a higher pedestal than stay at home mums - mums who slog their guts out all day trying to look after their kids who need 24-7 attention.
While paid parental leave is a good thing the Government’s scheme has more holes in it than Swiss cheese.
On page 20 of the explanatory memorandum of the Paid Parental Leave Bill 2010, it says that prisoners who perform work in prison would be eligible for the Government’s paid parental leave scheme.
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The Government needs to come clean on what its Paid Parental Leave Scheme really means for working families, starting with its name.
It’s a great irony that an initiative called Paid Parental Leave does not actually give anyone an actual right to time off work after birth.
In fact, if an employee has been working for less than 12 months, they have no guarantee they can return to their job if they take leave.
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It’s little wonder the Australian people, not to mention his own Coalition colleagues, are utterly confused about Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s sham paid parental leave scheme funded by his great big new tax on business.
As soon as his International Women’s Day thought bubble hit the airwaves, there was instant disbelief.
After all, this was the man who, as Workplace Relations Minister, declared that a paid parental leave scheme would only happen over his government’s “dead body.” And who then proceeded to kill off the paid maternity leave proposal put forward by the then Sex Discrimination Commissioner.
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Tony Abbott’s foray into progressive social policy has backfired, with his conservative base rejecting has plan to tax big business to pay for improved parental leave.
In the first serious signs that the Mad Monk’s honeymoon as leader is over, this week’s Essential Report finds the Liberal leader has cashed in his credentials as an economic conservative for no real gain, with little support for this family plan.
After watching the polls narrow to within striking distance over the summer, the Coalition heartland must now be wondering whether Mark Latham has returned to politics in a different set of Speedos.
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