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representatives vote 2020-02-25#1

Edited by mackay

on 2020-03-13 13:41:26


  • Bills — Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Flexibility Measures) Bill 2020; Second Reading
  • Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Flexibility Measures) Bill 2020 - Second Reading - Criticism of welfare cuts


  • <p class="speaker">Steve Georganas</p>
  • <p>I rise today to support Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Flexibility Measures) Bill 2020 with the amendments moved by the member for Barton. Australia's national Paid Parental Leave scheme was introduced by Labor and started in January 2010. When the Paid Parental Leave scheme was initially introduced by Labor when we were in government, Australia was one of only two OECD countries without a national scheme&#8212;the other one being the United States. So it was very much needed. In fact, Australia's Paid Parental Leave scheme was one of the most overdue reforms of the last decade. It took a Labor government to introduce a scheme that had been operational, as I said, in every OECD country except for the US and Australia.</p>
  • <p>We all know the financial stress that comes with welcoming a new child into a family, especially when both parents are working and depend on their wages and salaries for the household mortgage, food, goods et cetera. So we know how important it is and that it supports families especially when a newborn comes into the family. In fact, a good paid parental leave scheme is one of the most important things that we can do to help families. I've always been of the view that we should assist parents when there's a newborn in the family, or when they have a child, to assist them to have time off, to be able to still continue to pay their bills and to do the things that are so important at those early stages. That's why I spoke about this in my maiden speech. I spoke about the importance of helping families, because the world has changed from where we were 40, 50, 60 and 70 years ago, where you had one person working, bringing the income home, and another person staying at home and looking after children and the household.</p>
  • The majority voted against an amendment introduced by member for Barton [Linda Burney]( to the usual [second reading motion]( that "*the bill be read for a second time*", which is parliamentary jargon for agreeing with the main idea of the bill.
  • ### Motion text
  • > *That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:*
  • >
  • > *"whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House notes:*
  • >
  • > *(1) the financial difficulties facing Australian parents juggling young children and work;*
  • >
  • > *(2) the Government's repeated cuts to family assistance and programs designed to support children and parents; and*
  • >
  • > *(3) that women continue to do a disproportionable share of work in the home and raising children, as well as facing a significant gender pay gap"*
  • <p>Today the financial stresses on families are far greater. In most cases both parents need to work; both parents have careers; both parents are doing all they can to support the family. That's why in my maiden speech, back in 2004, I said:</p>
  • <p class="italic">For the sake of parents and their children, it is time that we challenged the dominance of work and the pursuit of prosperity without a purpose. There are too many families whose days consist of getting the children dressed, fed and off to school before going to work for days that are far too long, then picking the children up from day care or after school care, getting the children washed, fed and into bed with a story and then typically falling asleep, exhausted, with no time for themselves, their partners or their families. It is time to give families a balance between their work and time with each other. We need an industrial relations system that recognises the rights of employees to access family friendly work practices.</p>
  • <p>I went on to say:</p>
  • <p class="italic">It is essential, and I call on my parliamentary colleagues to set an example by supporting family friendly policies for their own staff.</p>
  • <p>It is so important, as I said, to support families, especially when a newborn comes home. When the Paid Parental Leave scheme was introduced, Australia was one of only two OECD countries&#8212;we're a country that has always been progressive and at the forefront of developing new policies; here was an area where we were miles behind. I'm pleased that under Labor the Paid Parental Leave scheme was introduced, starting in January 2011.</p>
  • <p>The purpose of the Paid Parental Leave scheme is to provide financial support to primary carers of newborn children and of newly adopted children. It allows those carers to take time off work to look after the kids, to care for the child after the child's birth, or adoption in many cases. This enhances the health and development of birth mothers and children. It's a very special time, when you have children. Most people in this place know what I'm talking about. The time when parents bond with their child is a special time; it's a time that you will never get back. Having been a parent myself&#8212;I have two boys who are now adults&#8212;I look back at those times and many times I think to myself, 'I should have spent more time with them; I should have done more things.' It is a very special time.</p>
  • <p>This is a really important bill. It's a bill that will enhance these things for the Australian people who have newborns. It enables women to continue to stay in the workforce, for example, and it promotes equality between men and women. Gone are the days when the man was the breadwinner and the woman's role was to be at home. Today we have equality between men and women, and this gives women the opportunity to pursue their careers and to do all of the things that men took for granted for many, many years. The balance between work and family life is important, and we need to enhance it.</p>
  • <p>This particular bill provides two payments, paid parental leave and dad and partner leave. Paid parental leave signals to employers and to the Australian community that a parent taking a period of time away from the paid workforce to care for a child is part of the usual course of life. And this is what we have to remember: this is part of the usual course of life. When we occasionally get sick, we have sick leave; when we have time off, we get holiday pay or paid leave. This is because we recognise these things as part of the course of life. Having a child is part of the course of life, and to think how, for many, many years, we lagged behind the rest of the word on this. Here in Australia&#8212;a country where we've always taken these things seriously&#8212;it took a Labor government to bring legislation in that assisted parents.</p>
  • <p>It also helps to address the gender pay gap, particularly for those women on low and middle incomes who have less access to employer funded parental leave. Almost 150,000 parents a year benefit from Australia's paid parental leave scheme, which was introduced by Labor back in 2011, and nearly half of all new mums benefit from the national Paid Parental Leave scheme. As I said, the importance of this particular bill and the things it does for parents cannot be emphasised enough. Labor supports this bill with the amendments by the member for Barton. I'm very proud to belong to a party that introduced the bill for paid parental leave back in 2011. Back then we were lagging behind many countries. It is an absolute necessity and it helps to address many things&#8212;the gender pay gap, women's and men's careers.</p>
  • <p>The gender pay gap remains a problem in Australia. When you look at the statistics, when you look at all the details and research that have come out and despite the Treasurer's recent contention in question time on 9 September 2019 that the gender pay gap has closed, it is not correct. All the reports still show that there is a huge pay gap here in Australia. Female workers in Australia still earn 14 per cent less than their male colleagues. So if the Treasurer and the Prime Minister were genuinely serious about fixing the gender pay gap, they would oppose cuts to penalty rates. That would be the first thing that they would do. The vast majority of the workers who have had their penalty rates cut through what's taken place in the last few years are women. It is women who are getting their penalty rates cut because they are the ones who work in those industries. The cuts to penalty rates are exaggerating the gender pay gap, not just making it harder for women to cover the bills and many other things but also putting pressure on them when they have children, for example.</p>
  • <p>The importance of ensuring that we support families, mums and dads, is absolutely crucial to a government which at its core should have the ability to look after families and people. We hear political parties sprout that they are the party for families, that they're the ones that look after your average Australian and the average family or the forgotten Australians, but we are all part of a family. Having a child is part of life. Governments of any persuasion should be doing all that they can to put the support in place for people starting a family. It is important for the bonding of the child with the mother, ensuring that they can concentrate on being parents at that time instead of worrying about the pressures of work and paying bills.</p>
  • <p>As I said, Labor supports this bill and the amendments that have been moved. I would say it doesn't go far enough. We can look at some models around the world like Germany, where paid parental leave really gives the parent the ability to have real time off to bond with their children and to ensure that everything is in place for those young children to grow up as good, solid adults.</p>
  • <p class='motion-notice motion-notice-truncated'>Long debate text truncated.</p>