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senate vote 2020-06-11#3

Edited by mackay

on 2020-07-03 12:15:22

Title

  • Bills — Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Flexibility Measures) Bill 2020; in Committee
  • Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Flexibility Measures) Bill 2020 - in Committee - Stay at home dads

Description

  • <p class="speaker">Stirling Griff</p>
  • <p>I move Centre Alliance request (1) on sheet 8959:</p>
  • <p class="italic">That the House of Representatives be requested to make the following amendment:</p>
  • The same number of senators voted for and against a [request](https://www.openaustralia.org.au/senate/?gid=2020-06-11.71.1) introduced by South Australian Senator [Stirling Griff](https://theyvoteforyou.org.au/people/senate/sa/stirling_griff) (Centre Alliance), which means it failed.
  • Senator Griff [explained](https://www.openaustralia.org.au/senate/?gid=2020-06-11.71.1):
  • > *This request is framed to increase the classes of persons who can claim parental leave pay. It is fully costed, and it would allow the biological father of a child or the partner of a child's birth mother to make a primary claim for parental leave pay for a child if the child's birth mother does not or is not likely to satisfy the income test at the relevant time.*
  • >
  • > *As I noted in my speech, there is inequity between two families on the same combined income: they would be eligible if the man were the higher income earner but not eligible if the woman were the higher income earner, which is just unfair. The current rules just don't reflect the realities of modern parenting, with more dads staying at home to care for children. The number of stay-at-home fathers has grown to 80,000 in 2016, based on the latest census data. It is time to move away from models that assume children will be cared for by a primary carer who is the mother. Modern parents don't define themselves in this way, and it's time the legislation doesn't either.*
  • ### Request text
  • > *That the House of Representatives be requested to make the following amendment:*
  • >
  • > *(1) Schedule 1, page 34 (after line 26), after item 111, insert:*
  • >
  • > *111A After paragraph 54(1)(a)*
  • >
  • > *Insert:*
  • >
  • > *(aa) if the child's birth mother is unlikely to satisfy the income test on the child's expected date of birth, or did not satisfy the income test on the day the child was born:*
  • >
  • >> *(i) the biological father of the child; or*
  • >>
  • >> *(ii) the partner of the child's birth mother;*
  • >
  • > *Statement pursuant to the order of the Senate of 26 June 2000*
  • >
  • > *Amendment (1)*
  • >
  • > *Amendment (1) is framed as a request because it amends the bill in a way that is intended to increase the classes of persons who can claim parental leave pay.*
  • >
  • > *The amendment would allow the biological father of a child or the partner of the child's birth mother to make a primary claim for parental leave pay for a child, if the child's birth mother does not, or is not likely to, satisfy the income test at the relevant time.*
  • >
  • > *As this will increase the number of persons who would be eligible to receive parental leave pay, the amendment will increase the amount of expenditure under the standing appropriation in section 307 of thePaid Parental Leave Act 2010.*
  • >
  • > *Statement by the Clerk of the Senate pursuant to the order of the Senate of 26 June 2000*
  • >
  • > *Amendment (1)*
  • >
  • > *If the effect of the amendment is to increase expenditure under the standing appropriation in section 307 of thePaid Parental Leave Act 2010 then it is in accordance with the precedents of the Senate that the amendment be moved as a request.*
  • <p class="italic">(1) Schedule 1, page 34 (after line 26), after item 111, insert:</p>
  • <p class="italic">111A After paragraph 54(1)(a)</p>
  • <p class="italic">Insert:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(aa) if the child's birth mother is unlikely to satisfy the income test on the child's expected date of birth, or did not satisfy the income test on the day the child was born:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;(i) the biological father of the child; or</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;(ii) the partner of the child's birth mother;</p>
  • <p class="italic"> <i>Statement pursuant to the order of the Senate of 26 June 2000</i></p>
  • <p class="italic">Amendment (1)</p>
  • <p class="italic">Amendment (1) is framed as a request because it amends the bill in a way that is intended to increase the classes of persons who can claim parental leave pay.</p>
  • <p class="italic">The amendment would allow the biological father of a child or the partner of the child's birth mother to make a primary claim for parental leave pay for a child, if the child's birth mother does not, or is not likely to, satisfy the income test at the relevant time.</p>
  • <p class="italic">As this will increase the number of persons who would be eligible to receive parental leave pay, the amendment will increase the amount of expenditure under the standing appropriation in section 307 of the<i>Paid Parental Leave Act 2010.</i></p>
  • <p class="italic"> <i>Statement by the Clerk of the Senate pursuant to the order of the Senate of 26 June 2000</i></p>
  • <p class="italic">Amendment (1)</p>
  • <p class="italic">If the effect of the amendment is to increase expenditure under the standing appropriation in section 307 of the<i>Paid Parental Leave Act 2010</i> then it is in accordance with the precedents of the Senate that the amendment be moved as a request.</p>
  • <p>This request is framed to increase the classes of persons who can claim parental leave pay. It is fully costed, and it would allow the biological father of a child or the partner of a child's birth mother to make a primary claim for parental leave pay for a child if the child's birth mother does not or is not likely to satisfy the income test at the relevant time.</p>
  • <p>As I noted in my speech, there is inequity between two families on the same combined income: they would be eligible if the man were the higher income earner but not eligible if the woman were the higher income earner, which is just unfair. The current rules just don't reflect the realities of modern parenting, with more dads staying at home to care for children. The number of stay-at-home fathers has grown to 80,000 in 2016, based on the latest census data. It is time to move away from models that assume children will be cared for by a primary carer who is the mother. Modern parents don't define themselves in this way, and it's time the legislation doesn't either. Minister, do you concede that the rule which unfairly penalises high-income earning mums and stay-at-home dads by tying eligibility to the birth mother is a discriminatory and sexist rule?</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Michaelia Cash</p>
  • <p>I will respond to the amendment that you have moved in total. The time-critical nature of this bill, which, as you are aware, provides critical flexibility in paid parental leave, precludes the government from considering other changes to the scheme at this time. Any changes to the means-testing arrangements would require consultation and investigation to ensure we strike the right balance.</p>
  • <p>The government is committed to delivering on measures that were announced in 2018 as part of the Women's Economic Security Statement that improve the flexibility of the Paid Parental Leave scheme. The proposed amendment that you have moved on behalf of Centre Alliance seeks to enable biological fathers or the partner of the birth mother to claim paid parental leave where the mother does not satisfy the paid parental leave income test. This would have the effect of enabling partners of high-income mothers&#8212;that is, above $150,000&#8212;to access paid parental leave, subject to the partner meeting the income and work tests. Whilst the proposal would address, as you've said, perceived gender bias in the PPL scheme, it would come at a cost to government and be providing increased support to higher-income families.</p>
  • <p>Women who are on a higher income and are primary carers are generally in a stronger position to obtain family-friendly benefits as part of their conditions of employment. Further, the requirement in the PPL scheme for a mother to have primary eligibility for parental leave pay reflects that the payment is primarily designed to assist mothers to take time out of the workforce to care for their newborn or recently adopted child, to enhance the health and development of the child and to allow time for the mother to recover from the birth. Whilst we remain open to discussion about further opportunities for improvement, our critical and immediate concern is delivering on the commitment for increased flexibility that has been widely supported.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Stirling Griff</p>
  • <p>Minister, your statement confirms that government does not have an issue with a sexist and discriminatory rule. Whilst I appreciate, as you said, that it may take time to consult with others, this change is very minor and, in fact, is fully costed by the PBO. It's around $27 million in the forward estimates. This has a very minor cost impact on your budget, but it just sets everything straight&#8212;it sets everything right. It removes this sexist rule. Given that part of your statement also said that it's something that perhaps should be looked at&#8212;but then it slightly contradicts itself as well a bit further on&#8212;can you advise whether government is looking at options that will actually take into account either combined family income or looking at this very issue in the reasonable future?</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Michaelia Cash</p>
  • <p>Thank you, Senator Griff. In relation to the costings, I am advised that it is $27 million per year as opposed to just $27 million. In relation to the comments you made about sexist discrimination, that is not what I said. I am being verballed in that regard. I will again outline the statement that I made: the requirement in the PPL scheme for a mother to have primary eligibility for paid parental leave reflects that the payment is primarily designed to assist mothers to take time out of the workforce to care for their newborn or recently adopted child, to enhance the health and development of the child and to allow time for the mother to recover from the birth.</p>
  • <p>In the opening statement that I provided in response to your first questions, I stated that the time-critical nature of this bill, which provides critical flexibility in the Paid Parental Leave scheme, precludes the government from considering other changes to the scheme at this time. Any changes to the means-testing arrangements would require consultation and investigation to ensure we strike the right balance. I also stated that whilst we remain open to discussion about further opportunities for improvement&#8212;in answer to the question that you have just put&#8212;our immediate concern is delivering on the commitment for increased flexibility that has been widely supported.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Louise Pratt</p>
  • <p>I have a question that follows on from Senator Griff's questions. How many men have taken paid parental leave each year since the scheme commenced? If you don't have that data then perhaps you can find a way of giving me an overview of it. And do you have an indication of how many families or men would not have been eligible for PPL if they had been subject to the same income test as women?</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Michaelia Cash</p>
  • <p>Senator Pratt, in terms of the information that the department have been able to provide me with right now, the information that they have to hand is details in relation to the number of dads and partners, under dad and partner pay, who received the payment last year. The figure, I am instructed, is 91,762; that's the figure that I've been provided with by the department.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Stirling Griff</p>
  • <p>Minister, my previous question was: are you considering looking at any other form of legislation to incorporate combined family income or fix this particular issue that I've referred to? That's my first question. My second question relates to the statement you made that the cost was $27 million a year. That is incorrect. The PBO costing out to 2022-23 totals $27.3 million, but, in each individual year, it's around $7 million to $9 million. I can table this PBO document, if that is appropriate, Chair; but it is not $27 million a year.</p>
  • <p class="italic">The CHAIR: Is leave granted? Are you able to circulate it, Senator Griff?</p>
  • <p>We can circulate it, but it was actually provided to government. It was provided to the opposition and&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="italic">The CHAIR: It may well be that the minister hasn't seen it. If you circulate it, the minister can have a look at it now.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Michaelia Cash</p>
  • <p>Senator Griff, in terms of the information that you are seeking to table, I am advised that we can take it on notice and give you a formal response in relation to the costings, but the information I was provided with, in response to your question, was as I provided.</p>
  • <p class="italic">The CHAIR: The question is that request (1) on sheet 8959, as moved by Senator Griff, be agreed to.</p>