“I congratulate PM Tony Abbott for realising that his ‘captain’s pick’ paid parental leave policy has got to change,” FamilyVoice research officer Ros Phillips said today.
“This policy is one of the main factors behind the Coalitions disastrous slide in the polls. Blind Freddy can see that you lose all credibility if you propose spending $5 billion on a paid parental leave scheme that disproportionately benefits wealthy women in the paid workforce, while trying to convince struggling Australians that there is a budget crisis.”
But Ros Phillips said proposed parental leave “tweaks” won’t do anything to win back the “Howard battlers” who voted for the Coalition last year but are now deserting it in droves.
“Those tweaks involve a little less money for paid parental leave, but more money for non-parental childcare. The government still doesn’t get it!” she said.
The latest Australian research shows that children under three years placed in childcare centres for more than 20 hours a week have a higher risk of aggressive behaviour and educational failure later on. Parent care builds a smarter Australia and higher productivity. Encouraging mums with very young children to re-enter the paid workforce is a counter-productive policy.
Last week Tony Abbott said: “Two things are needed to help families and get more women into the workforce — a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme and affordable, accessible childcare.”
“This statement is fundamentally flawed,” Ros Phillips said. “Getting more women away from caring for their toddlers and into the paid workforce is social engineering. It is not the proper role of governments.
“Joe Hockey has told us the age of entitlement is over. Why then should the child care industry be entitled to continued (or even increased) subsidies? Fairness and government neutrality demand that subsidies to the child care industry be abolished and replaced by a benefit to all families equally. That would allow families to decide for themselves between institutional childcare, grandparent childcare, nanny childcare or home-based parental care.”
“The federal government should take a lead from Canada, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on 30 October a package of tax breaks including income-splitting for couples with kids.
“Tony Abbott gets on well with Stephen Harper. Tony should give him a call!” Ros Phillips said.
- Family and parenthood