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Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Page: 6105

Ms JACKSON (3:17 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. How is the government supporting families to make their own work and family choices, and are there any threats to this support?

Ms MACKLIN (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) —I thank the member for Hasluck very much for her question. She knows that this government supports Australian families making their own work and family choices; that is why we provide support through a range of measures—the baby bonus, family tax benefit parts A and B and, from 1 January next year, Australia’s first paid parental leave scheme. Just today I have announced that from 1 July the baby bonus will increase by more than $100, to just over $5,300. This regular indexation increase will also see other family tax benefit payments increase for more than two million families.

Last week the Senate passed what can only be described as landmark legislation that does deliver Australia’s first paid parental leave scheme. Of course it is the case that Australians have been waiting decades for paid parental leave, even in the face of those opposite who, as we know, were dead against it. It is now the case that this government has delivered. One of the things that our paid parental leave scheme does is make sure that families are able to make their own work and family choices. We want families to be able to choose how to share the ongoing paid parental leave. We do know that there are more and more dads who want to have a hands on role at home. By contrast, I was interested to see that not only is the opposition leader’s paid parental leave scheme unfair to business, as we know, and unfair to families, but also he will not even let mums and dads figure out how they want to share the ongoing leave. Under the Leader of the Opposition’s scheme, it is only mums who are going to be able to take two weeks of paid leave.

This would not be surprising to anybody on this side of the parliament, because he really is so stuck in the past. He is completely out of touch with the reality of families today. In most homes today it is families together—mums and dads together—who work out what is going to suit their circumstances, and more often we are now seeing dads deciding that they might spend some time at home. Of course it is this Leader of the Opposition that is showing that he really does not understand, that he really does not want to support the choices that those families want to make. We do know that when it comes to husbands and fathers this opposition leader has some very, very low expectations. This is what he told ABC Radio a little while ago:

If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband. Not withstanding all his or her faults, you find that he tends to do more good than harm.

I have to say that this is appalling from the Leader of the Opposition, and is a great kick in the guts to all of those very committed dads out there. This opposition leader is a huge risk to mums and dads who want to be able to figure out their own work and family relationships. He is totally out of touch with the choices that families want to make.