Tony Abbot. Photo by Getty
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has formally unveiled his
"female-friendly" paid parental leave scheme.
Under the scheme, working women will get six months' leave on
full pay plus super for each baby born after July 1, 2015.
"No woman will be worse off by this policy but every working
woman will be better off," Mr Abbott told reporters in
Melbourne on Sunday.
Under his plan, a woman on average weekly earnings of $65,000
a year will get about $32,500 during her 26 weeks of leave.
Women who earn over $150,000 will get the maximum $75,000, in
the scheme to be funded by a 1.5 per cent levy on big
Mr Abbott insisted his scheme would not make women less
employable because its costs would not be imposed on
"You can employ as many women under 50 as you want, and it
won't impose any cost burdens on your business," he said.
"This is a very female-friendly policy."
Mr Abbott said the scheme created a level playing field for
young women in the job market.
He admitted that 10 years ago he would not have accepted the
kind of paid parental scheme he was announcing.
"But if we want families to have more kids, if we want women
to have a fair dinkum choice to have a family, and maybe to
extend the size of their family and to have a career, we need
a policy like this.
"That's why I have a convert's zeal on this."
The opposition leader acknowledged it was a "captain's call"
that had sparked a lot of debate among coalition MPs.
"I caused, shall we say, a sharp inhalation of breath among
some of my colleagues," he said.
But he was pleased that in the end most of them had
"overwhelmingly but perhaps not universally" come to accept
Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey insisted he "totally, absolutely
and without qualification" believed in the policy.
"I'm happy to invest in Tony Abbott's beliefs," he said,
adding the benefits far outweighed the cost.
Mr Abbott confirmed the scheme would also be available to
public servants and equitable funding arrangements would be a
matter of discussion between the commonwealth and the states.
He said the Parliamentary Budget Office had gone through the
scheme "with a fine toothcomb" and that it was fully funded.
Finance Minister Penny Wong said the "expensive" plan would
cost $6 billion more than what would be raised from a levy on
"The paid parental leave scheme that has been announced by
Tony Abbott is a plan that means there has to be more cuts,"
she told the Nine Network.
Asked whether Labor was considering including superannuation
in its scheme, Senator Wong said: "The important question is
how do you do it and is what you are cutting going to be
worse for families than the plan that is being promised."