PAID PARENTAL LEAVE: News Weekly
The PPL assault on the family: a solution
, August 7, 2010
A special reportIn Sweden, 81.3 per cent of children are in part-time or full-time day-care. This statistic should serve as a warning of how disastrous for Australian families is paid parental leave (PPL), which discriminates heavily against stay-at-home mothers.
In Australia today, only about 30 per cent of babies and toddlers are in day-care.
How could a seemingly "good" idea of paying women in the paid workforce to enjoy bonding time with their new babies, in reality, be such a hostile attack on family life?
Australia's discriminatory paid parental leave policy was designed by anti-family, career feminists, and was modelled on the paid parental leave and institutional day-care polices of Sweden and Canada.
These feminists do not believe in the state treating all women equally and allowing women to choose their own work-and-home life-balance, between raising their own children or hiring a paid stranger to do so.
Quite the opposite. They believe in using coercive economic measures - a "carrot and stick" approach - to herd mothers of babies and young children back into the paid workforce.
In understanding how these policies collude into a major assault on the family, the devil is in the detail.
Recently, the federal Labor Government's paid parental leave scheme passed through the Commonwealth Parliament with the support of the Coalition parties, granting mothers, as of next year, the minimum wage for 18 weeks.
It was pushed by career feminists, such as Family Minister Jenny Macklin (Labor) and Opposition childcare spokesperson Sharman Stone (Liberal).
In a bid to outdo Labor's policy, the Coalition is supporting 26 weeks' leave at full pay, for women earning up to $150,000 annually.
So, what's the problem with these schemes?
The underlying problem with both can be readily identified by examining Labor's scheme. It attacks families in two ways.First
, it immediately discriminates, in the following ways, against unwaged mothers at home looking after babies and young children:
a) The 56 per cent of mothers doing unpaid family work (i.e., their own childcare work at home or helping out in schools and communities) will get an average $3,100 less
from the Baby Bonus than will mothers in paid work who are entitled to paid parental leave (post-tax).
b) To be eligible, women will have to pass a "paid work test". They will need to have worked 330 hours continuous paid work for 10 months. To be eligible, they will have to be in paid work for at least a month before
they became pregnant.
c) Then, to be eligible for paid parental leave for the next baby, mothers must put their babies and older children into outside care and remain continuously
in paid work until six months pregnant again to be able to pass the "paid work test".
In short, the scheme stipulates that women who want to have two or more children, and remain eligible for ongoing paid parental leave, will have to put their older children into childcare.Second
, over time, the feminists in Parliament and the bureaucracy leverage up discrimination against mothers at home
Australia's paid parental leave scheme is based on similar schemes operating in Sweden and Canada.
Over time, Sweden's paid parental leave scheme expanded to 13 months and the payment rate increased to 80 per cent wage replacement.
It became so expensive that the Swedish government cut family allowances to mothers doing their own unpaid childcare work at home.
By 2008, at-home parent-care in Sweden became such a luxury that 81.3 per cent of children aged one-to-five ended up in institutionalised day-care (full-time or part-time) while their mothers were forced back into paid work.
In contrast, currently Australia has only about 30 per cent of children in institutionalised childcare.
Paid parental leave, even if it is only for mothers in the paid workforce, looks superficially attractive.
In reality, it is a brutal attack on family life. It is designed to manipulate economic inducements (for mothers in paid work) and economic penalties (for mothers at home) to herd women into paid work and to put more and more of their children into institutionalised day-care.
Paid parental leave is designed so it can expand over time at the expense of family payments to mothers at home.
This will increasingly restrict the options available to families on how they will raise their young children.
The scheme will reduce the time mothers spend with their babies and young children.
A just and fair solution must be based on treating all families the same. A 2010 Galaxy Poll for the Australian Family Association found that 71 per cent of families want paid parental leave extended to all mothers, both at home and in the paid workforce.
Equality requires a two-fold solution: all mothers should be paid the minimum wage for 18 weeks, and all mothers should be paid identically under one system via the Family Assistance Office.
Only then will families in Australia get a fair and just deal from the Commonwealth government.