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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 3415

Debate resumed from 15 June, on motion by Senator Sherry:

That these bills be now read a second time.

upon which Senator Fifield moved by way of amendment:

At the end of the motion, add “but the Senate:

(a)   affirms its commitment to supporting all Australian families and supports policies which give choice and flexibility to parents to enable them to choose what is right for their individual circumstances, whether they are at home or in the paid workforce;

(b)   recognises that parents have different patterns of family responsibilities and paid work over their life cycle;

(c)   recognises that due to rising costs of living and a housing affordability crisis, the majority of families require two incomes to make ends meet;

(d)   notes that Australia remains only one of two OECD countries that does not provide a paid parental leave scheme and that introducing a paid parental scheme is critical to the needs of working families and our national productivity more broadly;

(e)   rejects the Government’s representation of a paid parental leave scheme as a social security measure and instead affirms that it is a valid workplace entitlement that must come with a superannuation component to arrest the gross inadequacy of female retirement incomes;

(f)   notes the Government’s proposed paid parental leave scheme is inadequate in its current form and should be amended to better reflect the requirements of Australian working mothers, and families more generally;

(g)   supports the ability of casual, part-time and full-time women to access paid parental leave provided that they have met the qualifying criteria;

(h)   recognises that a paid parental leave scheme is only one part of government’s important role in supporting families as they raise the next generation of Australians;

(i)   acknowledges that the bill does not:

(i)   provide paid parental leave for a period of 26 weeks to afford all mothers the opportunity to breastfeed their infant for the minimum six month period recommended by the World Health Organisation, or

(ii)   provide women with a replacement wage, to a cap or minimum wage (whichever is greater), and so does not adequately support working families when they are at their most financially vulnerable;

(j)   acknowledges that the bill places a totally unnecessary impost on Australian businesses by requiring employers to act as paymasters for eligible employees; and

(k)   calls on the Government to make such amendments to the bill as would rectify these flaws”.