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Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 2312

Parenting Payments

Ms BURKE (ChisholmDeputy Speaker) (14:25): My question is to the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Will the minister update the House on how the government is supporting families with a new baby? What are the risks to this support today and in the future?

Ms MACKLIN (JagajagaMinister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Minister for Disability Reform) (14:25): I thank the member for Chisholm very much for her question and for her support, especially for paid parental leave. She understands, like everybody on this side of the House, why it is so important to give parents that extra support through paid parental leave when a new baby comes into the home. This government is all about getting things done, especially getting things done to support families. That is why we have delivered paid parental leave. I can inform the House that, from today, more than 140,000 families around Australia are benefiting from paid parental leave. We said we would deliver paid parental leave, and we have. We said we would deliver paid parental leave without an extra tax on business, and we have.

I am asked by the member for Chisholm what the biggest risks to paid parental leave in this country are. The biggest risk to paid parental leave is sitting right there. The Leader of the Opposition famously said when he was in government that paid parental leave would happen over his dead body. But now we know this Leader of the Opposition wants to introduce what has been called by his own side a 'Rolls-Royce system' of paid parental leave. This Leader of the Opposition not only will not deliver paid parental leave; he cannot deliver it, because he has got a $70 billion black hole, and his paid parental leave costs $4.5 billion a year, which he is going to pay for with a new tax on business. He wants to turn his back and look the other way, because he knows—

Mr Hockey: He's looking straight at you!

Ms MACKLIN: He is now. He is certainly looking at me right now, because he knows that that extra tax is going to mean—

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister will pause. The minister will be heard in silence for the balance of her 53 seconds.

Ms MACKLIN: It is not only the people of Australia that know that this Leader of the Opposition cannot afford his $4½ billion scheme; he has now got the member for McMillan and his own senators telling him that he cannot afford his Rolls-Royce paid parental leave scheme.

Ms BURKE (ChisholmDeputy Speaker) (14:28): Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, you have talked about how the Paid Parental Leave scheme has delivered for families around the nation. What has been the response to this from the community?

Ms MACKLIN (JagajagaMinister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Minister for Disability Reform) (14:28): I thank the member for Chisholm for her supplementary question. This policy of the government is helping families. We have had a lot of feedback from the community—and I know the member for Chisholm has as well—because more than 80,000 Australian families have already received their paid parental leave, so they have been writing to the Prime Minister and to me to indicate exactly how this has helped them. I will quote from one mother who wrote to the Prime Minister. She said: 'I wanted to express my deepest thanks for paid parental leave. If I had not received it, I would already be back at work by now and would have missed so much of my baby daughter's development.' Another one said, 'I thank you for the PPL scheme,' the Paid Parental Leave scheme. She talked about her baby spending her first year full time with her adoring mum and how this has really helped her develop. These are the stories we are getting. We are also hearing from those opposite and of course the friend of the Leader of the Opposition Peter Reith, who has told him his scheme does not make even the slightest bit of sense. The Leader of the Opposition has no support for his paid parental leave scheme because it is going to break the bank.

The SPEAKER: The minister is straying from the supplementary question.