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Thursday, 24 June 2010
Page: 6592

Mrs D’ATH (2:48 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. How is the government improving support for working parents?

Ms MACKLIN (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) —I very much thank the member for Petrie for that question. She understands, through her personal life as well as her working life, just how important it is to support the work and family choices of all families in Australia. We know how critical it is to value hard work, especially of mothers, whether they are in the paid workforce or at home.

The member for Petrie understands that all women will most likely spend some periods of their lives in the workforce or at home, combining both their work and family responsibilities. That is why the government provides financial support, through family tax benefit part A and part B and the baby bonus. From 1 January the government will deliver Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave scheme. Australia will finally catch up with the rest of the developed world. Eligible working parents will be entitled to 18 weeks of paid parental leave, paid at the federal minimum wage. The government made sure that this was budgeted for, paid for, in last year’s budget.

The government are making sure that our Paid Parental Leave scheme is fair to both business and families. This is a huge win for Australian families. It is also a particularly important win for those families who have traditionally missed out on paid parental leave. Access to paid parental leave is certainly rare for women on lower incomes. As a result of the government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme, we estimate that around 30,000 working families with incomes of less than $50,000 are expected to benefit. We also know that there are many casuals, many part-timers, many contractors and many self-employed women who have previously missed out. As a result of our scheme, around 10,000 self-employed women will gain access to paid parental leave each year. Many of those women will get paid parental leave for the first time. These are very real benefits for families in Australia, delivered by this government.