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Thursday, 13 May 2004
Page: 23240

Senator NETTLE (12:11 PM) —I seek leave to make a short statement on the comments made on the second reading amendment.

Senator Patterson —I am prepared to give leave if it is a very short statement.

Leave granted.

Senator NETTLE —I want to respond to the comments that Senator Collins made. The Greens' concern with the maternity payment, both from the government and from the ALP, is that it is not a leave scheme that has an entitlement to return to work. That is what our concern is about. In the United Kingdom, for example, the onus is on the employer to say why the woman cannot return to part-time work. That return to work component is not a part of the welfare payment that has been proposed, either the baby care payment or the maternity payment in this budget. So our concern is that it is not a leave scheme with a return to work entitlement component to it. In terms of the international standards that Senator Collins referred to, I made reference in my contribution to the second reading debate to the 16 weeks recommended by the World Health Organisation, which relates to breastfeeding for women. Neither of these payments meet that World Health Organisation standard.

Question put:

That the amendment (Senator Nettle's) be agreed to.