Staying mum on maternity leave

Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave plan will be a big incentive for women in the workforce to have children, according to Member for Calare John Cobb.TRADITIONAL political stereotypes have turned on their head in the current debate over maternity leave entitlements.
Nanjing Night Net

Opposition leader Tony Abbott is standing by his controversial scheme that would see new mothers receive 26 weeks of maternity paid at the rate of their wage when they finished working, up to a salary of $150,000.

That means new mothers stand to receive up to $75,000 in maternity entitlements – significantly more generous than the existing scheme.

Currently, eligible new mothers can receive 18 weeks of maternity leave at the rate of the minimum wage – $606.40 a week, for a total of almost $11,000.

You would think women’s groups would be effusive in their praise for the Abbott proposal, but that has been far from the case.

With a few notable exceptions – such as feminist author Eva Cox – prominent women have been strangely muted in their support for the opposition scheme.

The reason, it seems, is that this is the same Tony Abbott who was famously labelled a misogynist in federal parliament last year. And his reputation precedes him in this instance.

So rather than laud Mr Abbott’s support for working women – to be funded by a levy on Australia’s biggest companies – much of the commentary has instead focused on the inherent inequality of the scheme.

That’s certainly a valid criticism, of course, because paying wealthier women more in maternity entitlements than poorer women is some sort of reverse means testing.

But isn’t this a time when pragmatism should triumph over principle?

Under the Abbott scheme, even the lowest paid women in the country will receive more in maternity entitlements than under the Gillard scheme.

By playing the man and not the policy in this case, all women will end up the poorer.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.