Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Paid parental leave scheme is fair: Stone

Member for Murray Sharman Stone has defended the Abbott Government's proposed paid parental leave scheme, saying women in the workforce deserved support.

JARROD WHITTAKER June 16, 2014 3:41am

Sharman Stone

Federal Member for Murray Sharman Stone has weighed into the debate surrounding paid parental leave, backing the scheme proposed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Last week the scheme became the subject of speculation about an upper house revolt, with several Nationals’ senators signalling they would vote against it.

Queensland Nationals Senator Ron Boswell was among the senators critical of the scheme, which he said discriminated against rural women.

Last week Senator Boswell told The Australian the scheme was unfair to rural women, because they earned significantly less than those who lived in the city and would therefore receive less.

The paid parental scheme is not means tested, and would pay women their full salary for six months, up to $100000 a year.

This means women receive a maximum of $50000 for six months.

But Dr Stone rejected criticism it was unfair the scheme would pay women on higher incomes more.

‘‘It’s just outrageous because women do an enormous community service by giving birth to the next generation of children,’’ she said.

‘‘Typically women in middle to higher-income brackets have had access to paid parental leave at their salary level (through employer-funded schemes).

‘‘I think it’s very sad that this argument is about women apparently grasping for a special deal, when every civilised country knows unless you support women to have children many will delay childbirth because they can’t afford to be out of the workforce.’’

She said only about 1.5 per cent of the population earned more than $100000 and would receive the highest level of payment.

Dr Stone also rejected criticism women who worked on farms and could not prove their income would be affected by the scheme.

She said women could sign a statutory declaration they had worked 330 hours in a 10-month period and receive the minimum wage if they could not show they had been employed at a higher wage.

The government is not due to introduce the scheme until after the new Senate sits on July 1, but the legislation faces significant opposition.

Labor and the Palmer United Party oppose the scheme, meaning the government will need to deal with the Greens and independent senators to pass the legislation.

Editorial, page 8

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