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Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Page: 916

Ms SAFFIN (3:26 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Will the minister please update the House on the implementation of Australia’s first paid parental leave scheme?

Ms MACKLIN (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) —I thank the member for Page for her question and for her commitment to paid parental leave in Australia. On 1 January this year, paid parental leave was introduced into Australia for the first time. For the first time after decades of waiting, Australia finally caught up with the rest of the developed world and this Labor government delivered paid parental leave. Paid parental leave is now giving Australia’s babies the best start that they need in life, giving their parents the sort of financial security that they deserve and making sure that parents can stay at home with their newborn babies in those very important early months of life. Over 22,000 expectant and new parents have already put in their application forms and we now have 2,200 parents—

Mr Truss interjecting

Ms MACKLIN —It is typical of the opposition, who have opposed paid parental leave for so long and it was left up to this Labor government to deliver. We have now got 2,200 parents who are being paid paid parental leave. On New Year’s Day, the Prime Minister and I visited a mother who had just given birth that morning. She was so pleased that she had paid parental leave because, as she said to the Prime Minister and me, it meant that she would not have to work for up to a year. She knew the full value of paid parental leave to her and her family.

It is not just mothers and fathers who are pleased with paid parental leave; it is also business. Business is very pleased with the benefits that are coming to them from paid parental leave being delivered by this government. We have 2,500 employers already signed up to provide government funded parental leave pay to their long-term employees and more than half of those employers have opted to provide payments earlier than the 1 July start date for this part of the payment arrangements.

We have got small business opting into this arrangement at the same rate as bigger businesses. We have got employers already making the payments. I want to make this very clear to everyone in this House: employers are already making payments to their long-term employees and they are telling us how easy and straightforward it is. We have small businesses ringing up the Centrelink business hotline saying that they have had no problems with the scheme.

Of course, we know that those opposite just want to continue with their normal wrecking ways. We see the opposition trying to bring legislation in that would wreck the smooth introduction of this part of the scheme. But we know that parents are not fooled by the political games that those opposite are playing. Mums and dads and employers know that paid parental leave is good for families and is good for business, and it is the Labor government that has delivered it.

Ms Gillard —Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.