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26 responses to “Productivity Commission interim report on paid parental leave”

  1. wilful

    I’d really have to see why the hardheads at the PC thought the baby bonus should be retained (albeit rebadged). Couldn’t see that obviously in the ToC but I’m a bit rushed.

    $530M a year is surely affordable.

    of course, the world (and Australia) have a problem with too many children, I wouldn’t want this to boost the birth rate, just to make the babies that are going to be born healthier and happier.

    Anyway, it all seems good, if the PC can support it then surely this must be compelling?

  2. Mark

    I suspect the modified version of the baby bonus is there to pre-empt arguments about inequity for non-working mothers.

    Tony Abbott has been sounding off on a version of Nelson’s old “every baby is equal” line.


  3. The Amazing Kim

    I’m a little confused – the news report on the radio said it would be 18 weeks for mothers and 2 weeks for fathers. At the time I was disturbed to hear that men who wanted to be full-time fathers were being discriminated against. Does the report actually use gendered terms? Your post suggests that either partner could choose the 18 or the 2 weeks of leave.

  4. Adrien

    Mark this report is totally useless for two reasons. The first is that new mothers won’t need maternity leave because they won;t have jobs; the second is that the employers won;t be able to provide maternity leave because they won;t have any cash.

  5. Mark

    Huh? Adrien? Lots of women have children while they’re working. And the employers don’t have to pay anything but super.

    Amazing Kim, to be honest, I haven’t had time to read the report itself. I decided to use gender neutral language even if no one else was doing so! But I would imagine that the situation is as I’ve described it – sorry for being a bad blogger but I’m on a deadline to hand in my phd this week!

  6. Adrien

    Mark that is what I call ‘a joke’. Did they ban them in Brizvegas? Not surprising really.
    So next week you’ll be Dr Mark? Or soon enough? Congrats!

  7. tigtog

    Amazing Kim, the other issue is that maternity leave should be considered separately from parental leave – maternity leave is the period required for the body to recover from pregnancy and labour and (ideally) establish breastfeeding. Fathers don’t need the same provisions for those physical considerations, but they do need access to parental leave.

  8. Mark

    Sorry, Adrien, tired!

    And thanks! Dr Mark will be a little while away. The deadline I’ve got is for submission, and then the thesis goes forward to an internal panel for an oral defence – at the end of the month. They can suggest changes, etc. I then make changes, etc. and it goes to external examiners, who can suggest changes, etc. Probs some time in the first half of next year! But hopefully all the hard lifting is done as of this week.

  9. Mark

    Thanks for that, tigtog!

  10. Kim

    Does anyone know why John Robertson from Unions NSW was decrying this?

    Interesting coverage in the Courier-Mail today. Front page working mum. Big photo. What you will get type box.

    I don’t think there’ll be much wiggle room on this one for the Ruddster, enquiries and deadlines notwithstanding. But maybe that was the idea behind what he was saying yesterday.

    It would be a very concrete step to deliver this in the face of all the “do nothing” criticism.

  11. Bingo Bango Boingo

    Kim, he says 18 weeks isn’t long enough.


  12. Kim

    He might be right in theory, BBB, I spose, but I guess there’s an element of an ambit claim in what he’s suggesting?

  13. Chris (a different one)

    Only had a quick look through the report, but I didn’t see any mention of means testing the payments (either the maternity allowance or the parental leave) and they do talk about parental leave rather than maternity leave in order to give the same rights to adoptive parents etc.

    Its worth quite a bit more than the baby bonus and some companies would use the government payments to supplement existing parental leave payments (eg extend the paid leave time available or increase the payments) that they already pay rather than using it reduce their costs).

    I was a bit a disappointed, but not surprised, to see that they still see things in terms of a single primary carer of the baby rather than allow for shared care – eg allowing parents to share the parental leave so they both work part time and retain the standard parental leave rights (such as job security) over that period. By reinforcing the primary carer model where initially its nearly always make sense for that to be the mother, it makes it more difficult for men to take more of the childcare responsibilities.

  14. Mindy

    Apparently there are provisions for the mother to give some of her leave to her partner so that shared parenting arrangements can be made. I think the idea was to make fathers take at least 2 weeks (which some otherwise wouldn’t) and then the rest can be negotiated between the parents.

  15. Chris (a different one)

    Mindy – being able to give leave would be nice, but its really only useful if the leave can be interleaved, which current parental leave
    laws don’t allow for – you’re either on parental leave or not. So if the provisions only allow for the mother to give a chunk of say 4 weeks to their partner its not nearly as useful as being able to give 1 day a week to their partner.

    Whilst it may be practical say after 6 weeks for a mother to continue to breastfeed and work 1 or 2 days a week, doing more than that is going to be quite difficult.

    As an aside I think 2 weeks of leave for fathers is not nearly enough, but I’d guess many would use much of their annual leave to supplement it anyway.

  16. Helen

    The response in the AGE letters page today was hugely disappointing. The letter given top prominence was a typical case of “Erk, somebody’s getting something that I’m not!” I hope she and the other whingers in the letters page wrote equally scathing letters about sending troops to Iraq because of nonexistent WMDs, building multiple detention centres, the Pacific “solution”, the NT Intervention, funding private schools and other questionable spending decisions. The GP is obviously massively ignorant about and hostile toward maternity leave. Can’t have public money going towards wimmin and children’s stuff, can we.

  17. wilful

    Different Chris, one reason means testing isn’t such an issue is it’s minimum wage.

    I wonder what would happen to my wife’s mat leave (which she’s currently enjoying)? She gets 3 months (6 months at half pay actually) – would her work dare try to reduce her pay to minimum wage? Given their current hiring difficulties absolutely not, but for a certain number of businesses, professional women will do worse out of this.

  18. Mark

    I’m not sure the incentive is there to do that, wilful. If the federal government pays minimum wage for 18 weeks, it reduces the labour costs of the employer to pay the difference between this and the actual wage rather than having to pay all of the actual wage themselves.

  19. Mindy

    Some might try it wilful, but most employers who offer maternity leave (who aren’t govt) do so because they realise the benefits of retaining staff. So most will probably just pay the difference, + super as Mark suggested.

  20. Chris (a different one)

    wilful @ 17 – they are also recommend not means testing the maternity payment (the renamed baby bonus) for mothers without a job, probably because the parental leave is not to means tested.

    As Mark and Mindy have mentioned some employers offer paid maternity leave as a means of retaining staff and attracting them in the first place, so I think some employers would even give the government payment to employees in addition to what they already pay (after all its not costing them anything more). So effectively it could end up being an 11k baby bonus for those who already have paid parental leave. For others its just going to be a govt subsidy for something they already do.

  21. brissy dj

    i think no more women will be hired for our jobs as its not viable for small business anymore. Rudd can you screw up life for business owners anymore. People you can complain about this attitide buts its small business owners mortgage or some persons maternative leave. Rudd has taken away all possible reasons for small business owners. talk about robin hood Rudd! pay the grasshoppers and not the squirrels. Rudd who voted for him. CMon how many of you would do it again. Give with one hand and take with the other but multiple times of what he gave

  22. Helen

    “Maternative leave”: I think that’s going to catch on.
    “pay the grasshoppers and not the squirrels”: Um, dude, I think you are thinking of the ant and the grasshopper, not the squirrel and the grasshopper.
    You are also imagining that women who take parental leave are “grasshoppers”, that is, thoughtless consumers. In fact, most of us want parental leave so that we can continue to work, pay tax and accumulate nuts, er, superannuation for our old age.

    I want those fighting a rearguard action against Teh Evil Greedy Wimmin and their Maternity leave to justify all the Federal spending on toys for boys, sport and junkets.

  23. brissy dj

    Helen, ask the small business owner, you paying tax when the small business owner doesnt have the staff member means they loose money and then go out of business and then have to fire people causing unemployment and then you dont get anything. Small business gives most to the economy and that is where they should be focused.
    Rudd takes it away and then takes more. Small business gives jobs not Labor. Help small business. The more people that think the government is actually helping us is causing more and more pain. They are prodicting 8% unemployment. Penalise the people with health insurance and hospitals are struggling. They pay for most of it. God open your eyes , if small business is screaming for help how are they going to help the unemployed.

  24. thewetmale

    Well said mr DJ, you truly are a public intellectual, perhaps second only to Robert Manne. BTW, you do realise that the ‘maternative’ will be paid by the government, and if they dump the baby bonus, will probably help the budget bottom line. No mortgage is going out the door because working women can have babies a little easier. And that 8% unemployment number, have you heard of the GFC?

    Thanks for the laughs.

  25. Ambigulous

    not quite public enough – here is but bloggery

  26. dj

    almost enough to make me want to change my moniker