Captain’s Call: Tony Abbott’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme

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WORDS by Anna Glen

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s controversial $5.5 billion Paid Parental Leave Scheme (PPLS) has been put on the backburner, with the legislation unlikely to reach Parliament until next year.

This has come as welcome news to some. The scheme attracted criticism from all sides of politics since it announcement in 2012, including some from the Prime Minister’s own party.

LNP Senator, Ian Macdonald said the scheme appeared to “militate against women in country areas where wages are not as high” and fellow Liberal Senators Dean Smith and Cory Bernardi have also publicly expressed their doubts about the plan. Whilst the Greens have indicated they are willing to negotiate, Clive Palmer declared the policy is “dead in the water”.

It would take only five Coalition Senators to vote against the scheme for it to fail in the Senate and the probability of this is likely to have prompted the push back to 2015.

But Government frontbencher, Scott Morrison remains defiant, maintaining the policy will go ahead with the “full support of cabinet.” He said the scheme has only been deferred to ensure budget measures go through first, telling the ABC that  “all our other priorities will then be taken through the parliament in an orderly fashion.’’

The treasurer Joe Hockey has also said the draft legislation is “not too far away.”

The current scheme allocates 26 weeks of paid parental leave to mothers at their actual wage or the national minimum wage ($640.9 per week), depending on which is greater.  It will be funded by a 1.5 per cent levy on companies with taxable incomes greater than $5 million dollars.  Payments are capped at $50,000, lowered from the original cap of $75,000.

Labor has criticised the “Rolls-Royce” scheme for being inequitable, arguing that it gives well-off mothers significantly more money than those who are on the minimum wage payment.

The fate of the controversial policy remains to be seen.

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