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Thursday, 17 June 2010
Page: 5794

Dr STONE (4:14 PM) —In adding my voice to that of the shadow minister for small business, let me say that, in addition to the burden for small businesses that the amendment we put forward would have helped resolve, there is another dimension to this problem. I am concerned that when a small business, particularly a microbusiness with perhaps two or three employees, has to make a choice between two candidates for a new job, a woman of child-bearing age and man, and it knows about the administrative burden that it is going to have to take up with paid parental leave, that will see discrimination against the woman candidate. I do not think that is acceptable. We have already got a lot of discrimination in the Australian workforce in relation to women, with the gender pay equity problems. This reinstates or puts into place additional potential discrimination against women.

I cannot understand for a minute why a government which has said that it will for six months have a moratorium on all businesses handling the payroll function cannot extend that, given in particular that the six months of payroll attention from the Family Assistance Office will continue beyond six months for the employees who do not have an employer who can be readily nominated, like the contract workers, the self-employed and the casual workers. They will continue to have their paid parental leave come through the Family Assistance Office indefinitely, but we are told that, for others, who have an identifiable employer, their payroll moratorium will cease after six months. We think that this is a very serious problem.

The good news for Australian business and for Australian women is that when we get into government we will introduce an appropriate scheme which, in particular, will not burden and be a problem for businesses and will give working families every chance to have a good parental leave scheme that is amongst the world’s best, not amongst the world’s poorest and most inadequate.

Question agreed to.