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Talk about stubborn!

Yesterday I heard Joe Hockey interviewed. When asked about Tony’s pet Paid Parental Leave Scheme he had the unmitigated gall to say that Labor hates paid parental leave. Does he forget that it was Labor that brought in our first PPL on January 1 2011? Does he forget Abbott’s history on this issue?

In 2002, Tony Abbott’s hostility to paid parental leave reached a crescendo, when he declared to the press: “Compulsory paid maternity leave? Over this Government’s dead body, frankly.”

Writing for The Australian in October 2008, he claimed that paid parental leave – like abortion – was part of a “radical women’s agenda” championed by extreme feminists in the Labor movement. He spoke out about his opposition to the scheme based on the ways it reduced stay at home mothers to second class citizens, lambasting then Prime Minister Rudd’s commitment to women workers as an example of “Political Correctness”; extreme lip-service to the feminists in Labor ranks.

In 2009 a Productivity Commission Report stated :

“Payment at a flat rate would mean that the labour supply effects would be greatest for lower income, less skilled women — precisely those who are most responsive to wage subsidies and who are least likely to have privately negotiated paid parental leave. Full replacement wages for highly educated, well paid women would be very costly for taxpayers and, given their high level of attachment to the labour force and a high level of private provision of paid parental leave, would have few incremental labour supply benefits.”

Despite this advice, in 2010 “Mr Abbott first announced his paid parental leave after he emerged from a luncheon event on International Women’s Day. The scheme would pay new mothers their regular wage for six months, up to a maximum of $75,000, and is to be funded by a 1.5 per cent levy on more than 3000 big companies.”

On May 6 2013, Malcolm Turnbull refused to comment when asked if he thought there should be a review into the scheme.

“I’ve said again I am not going to comment on whether it should be reviewed or not. I don’t believe there is any need to review it. I think it has been very carefully costed by Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb so it is certainly in the policy budget envelope but any further deliberations on that or any other policy is obviously something we do in the four walls of shadow cabinet,” Mr Turnbull said.

“This is a key policy of Tony Abbott’s and it is something that we have as part of our policy and I don’t see any probability or likelihood that of that policy being shelved. Tony is very committed to it.”

The next day we hear a little more about Tony’s rationale of wanting women of calibre to breed.

TONY Abbott’s expensive paid parental leave scheme is “all about” encouraging women of “calibre” to have children, the Opposition Leader said today.

“We do not educate women to higher degree level to deny them a career,” he said.

“If we want women of that calibre to have families, and we should, well we have to give them a fair dinkum chance to do so. That is what this scheme of paid parental leave is all about.”

On that same day

Internal dissent about the policy went public this morning, with federal Liberal backbencher Alex Hawke calling it an “albatross” that must be “scrapped”.

Writing for the Institute of Public Affairs backbencher Alex Hawke blasted it as an “unjustifiable impost on business” and said the policy should be reviewed.

“An expansion of the PPL scheme is ill-suited to an economically Liberal agenda,” Mr Hawke wrote.

“Most importantly for Australians, the policy does not pass the fair-go test.”

“Now would be a very good time to revisit this policy with a view to scrapping it before the next election, so we can go to the election without this albatross around the neck of the party,” he said.

In June 2013, when asked to guarantee Tony Abbott’s “signature policy”, Mr Hockey responded: “You will see our initiative in that regard prior to the election…I’m not going to get into speculating about where we’re at.”

The following month, big business and the IPA added their criticism of the scheme.

LABOR is on its own believing a parental leave plan should be paid at “welfare” rates rather than a worker’s real wage, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says.

But that’s not quite true. Big business joined critics of Mr Abbott’s signature paid parental leave scheme as Coalition MPs prepare to pressure their leader to modify it.

Mr Abbott’s predicament has been summed up by a shadow minister: “There’s only one vote for it in the party room.”

It is one of the most generous proposals in the world but the cost, the need for a tax increase, and the lack of consultation has turned some Liberal MPs against it.

Business is also fighting the plan with the head of the Australian Industry Group, Innes Willox Monday night saying: “There are no positives, no upsides in this policy that we can see for business.

“It’s inequitable,” Mr Innes told ABC TV.

“Only the top 3000 or so companies would be paying and they’d be subsidising for everyone else. That doesn’t make sense on that level.

‘”The current system is operating well. It has very broad business and community support. We don’t see any reason to change.”

John Roskam of the economically dry Institute for Public Affairs said “There’s widespread concern that the Coalition is supporting a tax increase. And at this time, the Coalition should be talking about cutting taxes and cutting spending, not increasing taxes.”

More recently we have had the commission of audit and the Productivity Commission (again) suggesting the money would be better spent on childcare.

May 1 2014

The commission (of audit) also wants Mr Abbott’s generous paid parental leave scheme wound back and the money directed into a streamlined childcare support mechanism. Paid parental leave wage replacement should be capped to average weekly earnings – $57,460 a year, much less than the current proposal of $100,000. The savings should be used to offset the cost of expanded childcare assistance.

July 22 2014

The Coalition has dismissed a Productivity Commission suggestion that funds be redirected away from Tony Abbott’s paid parental scheme and into childcare services, arguing that the two are “separate things”.

On a government website there is an article titled Comparing the Paid Parental Leave Schemes. It states

The designs of both the current and Coalition/Greens schemes contain elements that make them as much like an Australian Government welfare payment as they are workplace entitlements. For example, rather than being funded and run privately by employers or funded (as occurs in most OECD countries) through a social insurance scheme, they are:

•fully or substantially funded from taxation revenue and

•fully or substantially administered by the Department of Human Services.

Critics of both the Coalition and Greens schemes have tended to argue that PPL should better reflect the existing framework of Australia’s welfare payment system, based around targeting flat rates of payment at those most in need. As the Henry Tax Review noted, ‘the primary purpose of government assistance payments to individuals is to provide them with a minimum adequate standard of living’. A further value underlying the Australian system is that there should be incentives for private provision, with the benefit system seen more as a safety net.

The government argues that their scheme aims at gender equity and workforce participation. This is hard to sell when you look at the guys and doll that form their cabinet and the reports from the PC and commission of audit suggesting affordable, flexible, quality childcare is far more important.

Despite a so-called budget emergency and criticism from every direction, regardless of advice from every expert review, unheeding of internal dissent, Tony forges ahead with his “I like women and women like me” campaign. Does Tony really believe that he knows better than all experts on every matter? It’s all just a political game for him and he increasingly shows he has no idea how to prioritise.

Abbott’s signature policy may be something to aspire to in the future but he is signing the cheque with money slashed from those most in need. This mantra of “we took it to the election” won’t wash in light of all your other broken promises from your infamous “no cuts” speech. Give it up Tony!

Failed plans should not be interpreted as a failed vision. Visions don’t change, they are only refined. Plans rarely stay the same, and are scrapped or adjusted as needed. Be stubborn about the vision, but flexible with your plan.

-John C. Maxwell


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  1. Kaye Lee

    “The Commission considers that it is unclear that the proposed changes to the paid parental leave scheme . . . would bring significant additional benefits to the broader community beyond those occurring under the existing scheme,” the report says.

    “There may be a case, therefore, for diverting some funding from the proposed new scheme to another area of government funding, such as [early childcare education and care], where more significant family benefits are likely.””

  2. lawrencewinder

    …as thick as two short planks!

  3. David Linehan

    Hockey is competing with Abbott for the who can lie and deceive more No1, title. It is now practically every time he opens his big mouth, lies, misinformation, deception, twisted incorrect figures etc etc. Frankly this galah is a tosser of the worst kind.
    Currently he is in NZ assisting their Tory PM Key’s election prospects and more cr-p. For the umpteenth time an Australian Minister has told the Kiwis the restrictions on benefits, work etc are being considered and may be lifted.
    I have lost count the number of times that hairy chestnut has been tossed around and conveniently forgotten, once the particular stunt has expired. This time its the Kiwi Tory Govts re- election.
    I give Hockey’s words as much credibility as I do Abbott’s and that my friends is a huge zero!!

  4. vanders2014

    They are sticking to their bullshit policy as they have had no alternative thought bubble. Having absolutely no idea what working women need to stay or return to work they stubbornly stick with the absurd. The minister for women surely gets into trouble at home as Hockey must. Their wives are working women and must cringe when tbey speak their dribble. Grasping at straws is not how gov should be run. Labor are progressive where lnp are regressive. They will pay a heavy price for being total wankers. As they have had the expensive FREE education and realy are completly bumb as batshit and not one of them stands out otherwise. Now he is telling Putin he is supporting terrorists and grandstandjng on the back of this tragedy. PUP minister is reprimanded for asking if someone was well hung . Abbott should be fired for the lies he has told. One rule for him and a hipocrite rule for everyone else.

  5. juliefarthing

    This historical account (which provides a very interesting story) highlights three very important things about:TA and the LNP:

    1) “Mr Abbott first announced his paid parental leave after he emerged from a luncheon event on International Women’s Day”. Tony Abbott takes to new ideas that are presented to him (usually alongside a good meal) like an excitable puppy with a bone – he chews it and sleeps with it and gets it out to show people at every opportunity. The fact that the bone has been worn down from all that grinding and there is not a scrap of meat left on it doesn’t matter at all, because it is his bone and he is going to chew it

    2) (The government argues that their scheme aims at gender equity and workforce participation) On the contrary, Tony and his crew are intent on keeping well-educated women out of the workforce in mummy mode for enough time for their bosses and colleagues to forget all about them, and for them to have failed to keep up for long enough to make returning to work difficult – therefore leaving the space for the men in the professions they have left behind to proceed unhindered into their ‘rightful’ roles. Sorry Tony but providing gender equity and employment opportunities for women is NOT ‘what this scheme of paid parental leave is all about’, is it? do you really think we would fall for that one?

    3) This is exactly the same reason for not funding child care places for women on lower wages – it will keep this group of women out of the workforce too.

    And bingo – we are back to women being in their rightful place – barefoot, pregnant in the kitchen.

  6. paul walter

    Hockey is not just thick, he is spiteful.. he is on record as being further to the right even than Abbott on pensions and similar issues.

  7. Mercurial

    Hi Kaye – great article, but as a former musician, “reaching a crescendo” grates severely. The crescendo is the build-up (means “getting louder”), I think you mean ‘climax’. I appreciate all the work you do for this site

    And for those who want to have a go at me for this, how many words have to be misused before we no longer understand each other? And when does it matter?

    THanks Kaye.

  8. corvus boreus

    Reaching a crescendo is the point where the music begins to build in intensity, tempo, and/or volume.
    Reaching a climax is the point where eyes go crossed and strange phrases are shouted.

    Thank you,mercurial. I love words and like them to fit with the ideas they are trying to express.

  9. John C. Massam, of Greenwood, W.A.

    The paid parental scheme is a LOSER, especially if the young unemployed are to be deprived even of the dole, and the chronically ill are to pay $7, much of which is for a future fund for research, even though the pre-existing Future Fund already has $97 billion dollars in it. You can’t fool me, Tony and accomplices!

  10. rossleighbrisbane

    Perhaps “reaching a cacophony” would best describe any noise the Liberals make – even when it’s only Christopher Pyne speaking!

  11. Anne Byam

    to Julie Farthing. You write well – seriously – I mean that. . Thanks for your input. The current Government will do and say ANYTHING to get their own materialistic way. Never mind anyone else. As long as they ( think ) they are being seen as leaders. They are not a boot-lace in a leaders shoe wear !!! Your comments are spot on … but it doesn’t stop at women. I might be wrong, but paid parental leave, also includes men – who choose to be house husbands and minders of their children. There are however, quite a number of ‘questions’ they need to answer before being considered for ‘paid parental leave’ … which is up in the air at this point in time. No-one, no-how knows which way this Government will turn … and turn it does ……. on it’s constituents, on it’s people, and on the more needy in the community. Bah humbug to Abbott and his suspect cronies.

  12. Kaye Lee


    I agree with you. It is a direct quote from the linked article. Reaching a crescendo doesn’t quite work does it.

    Mind you, every time I think my horror at this government has climaxed I find I am still in crescendo.

  13. corvus boreus

    The LNP orchestral operetta performance crescendoed with a cacophonic chorus of the dystopian, dyslexic and dyspepsic, and climaxed with the collapse of the set and a smirk, wink, and lick of the lips from the conductor, the incomparable Tone-def.
    He hopes for an encore.

  14. Kaye Lee

    while my guitar gently weeps…..

  15. corvus boreus

    …a dirge for box-banjo.

  16. Mercurial

    Oh I hope this government has climaxed already…. Tones sometimes has the look in his eyes of a lascivious lecher. Other times is the smug, spent and self-satisfied smirk.

  17. paul walter

    What I found astonishing about that ,apart from the imbecile level robo-response from Abbott’s office and Dutton’s crass rudeness, was the fact that 20% of those polled regarded such responses as ok.

  18. Mercurial

    That survey at the bottom of that article is telling: should the writer expect a ‘more targeted’ response. In other words, should she expect answers to her questions?

    If MPs aren’t there to respond to constituents, the what is their role?

  19. Kaye Lee

    Tony prefers “boys questions” about football.

    Our children are truly an inspiration. We had the kids from Newtown High showing us how trivial Tony is. We have this young girl fighting for the pararoos. In Adelaide the kids of Woodville High are standing up to Scott Morrison, fighting for justice for their friends who have been ‘disappeared’. We have the university students protesting against skyrocketing university fees and student debt.

    We must encourage all young people to enrol and use their vote wisely. It is their future at stake as well as social justice right now. We must not sell all their assets and strip away their safety net and equal opportunity to pay for entrenched upper class welfare like Tony’s PPL and for his ever increasing defence budget, military toys, and grandstanding.

  20. Mercurial

    And that is what really gets on my goat, Kaye. That a Prime Minister should be able to dictate his ‘preferences’ when it comes to questions.

    It isn’t about you, Tony. Despite what your supporters say. IT ISN’T ABOUT YOU!

  21. abbienoiraude

    You and I know Abbott does not care, he can’t care.
    You and I know Hockey doesn’t consider the affect of ‘his’ budget. He can’t afford to, because it seems, in the end, they are professional ‘politicians’ ( whatever that means).
    How to explain to young children about not telling lies, being kind to those worse off than you, being generous to the poor, being helpful to the disabled and aged. What example are we setting where our (MSM) journalists no longer fight and sweat, plan and research to expose the Truth. What example is there showing what being a good person really means when our ‘Leaders’ vilify those desperately seeking our help on the high seas. How to teach about history and how the ‘goodies’ always win when the obfuscations, secrecy, lies and overt bowing and scraping to those who have the most money is the motivation, the only motivation now in our Land.
    It is all so breathtaking in its immorality and in its corruption.
    A frisson of the rot settling in on ancient Rome.
    Destruction of the rights of the child, the student, the parent, the worker, the aged, the citizenry all for the sake of the few who know nothing of compassion, empathy, kindness, dedication and who are totally without a vision, a brilliant, scintillating vision for the future of our Country.
    It is exhausting not to become totally despondent.

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