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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 3440

Senator FIELDING (Leader of the Family First Party) (11:17 AM) —by leave—I move:

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the following amendments:

(1)    Clause 4, page 3 (line 27), omit “the work test,”.

(4)    Clause 6, page 18 (line 7), definition of work test, omit the definition.

(5)    Clause 12, page 23 (lines 26 and 27), omit “the work test,”.

(6)    Clause 26, page 36 (line 9), omit paragraph (1)(a).

(7)    Clause 26, page 36 (line 19), omit paragraph (2)(a).

(8)    Clause 30, page 38 (line 11), omit “the work test,”.

(9)    Clause 30, page 38 (lines 20 to 24), omit the paragraph relating to Division 3.

(10)  Clause 31, page 40 (line 8), omit paragraph (2)(a).

(11)  Clause 31, page 40 (line 32), omit subparagraph (4)(a)(i).

(13)  Part 2-3, page 42 (line 1) to page 45 (line 12), Division 3, omit the Part.

Statement pursuant to the order of the Senate of 26 June 2000

Amendments (1) and (4) to (11) and (13)

Amendment (13) removes a work test which otherwise must be met before a person qualifies for payments under this Act. The effect of the amendment would be to expand the class of people entitled to payments, resulting in additional amounts being paid. The increased expenditure would be met from the standing appropriation in clause 307 of the bill.

Amendment (13) is therefore circulated as a request.

Amendments (1) and (4) to (11) are consequential amendments, and are therefore also circulated as requests.

Statement by the Clerk of the Senate pursuant to the order of the Senate of 26 June 2000

The Senate has long accepted that an amendment should take the form of a request if it would have the effect of increasing expenditure under an appropriation clause in a bill.

On the basis that amendment (13) would result in increased expenditure under the appropriation in the bill, it is in accordance with the precedents of the Senate that those amendments be moved as requests.

It is also in accordance with precedents for the consequential amendments to be moved as requests.

Senator FIELDING —The requested amendments basically get rid of the work test, which would mean that stay-at-home mums would not miss out on the paid parental leave payments. Therefore they would not be discriminated against through this bill. As I said before, mums who stay at home to look after their kids and who are not in the paid workforce would be $2,000 worse off if they decided to stay at home after having their first child then continued to stay at home after the second or even third child. All of a sudden they are worse off under this bill, and I think that is crazy.

I was making this point before. People may say it is emotive, but I will say it again: prisoners and prostitutes get payments under this paid parental leave arrangement but stay-at-home mums do not. Is that fair? Is it fair that someone who decides to stay at home to look after their first child then has a second child and chooses not to go back into the paid workforce ends up being financially not as well off as those in the paid workforce? I think that is wrong. You are giving a greater incentive to those in the paid workforce than to stay-at-home mums, who I think also should be valued.

Each senator has to look at this and think about how they have been saying to communities outside this place that they are for stay-at-home mums. There are concerns that, through this legislation, those parents in the paid workforce will be $2,000 better off than those who are staying at home. This is a real concern. In relation to items (4) and (13), if the government does not get 39 votes—in other words, if there were 38 votes against this—those clauses would be deleted from the bill. I make it very clear that senators cannot go out to the community and say that they are for stay-at-home mums and then, in considering this bill, not vote for these requests for amendments. Basically, these requested amendments remove the work test from this bill to make sure that stay-at-home mums are not discriminated against.