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Democrats challenge ALP to deliver on maternity leave.

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Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Leader of the Australian Democrats Status of Women spokesperson 3 October 2001 MEDIA RELEASE 01/586

Democrats challenge ALP to deliver on maternity leave The Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, has welcomed Opposition Leader Kim Beazley’s response to the Democrat policy of paid maternity leave for Australian women - and invited him to go further.

“I am pleased to see that Mr Beazley is proposing an inquiry into the feasibility of paid maternity leave in response to our proposals. This is at least a step in the right direction, and one the Government has steadfastly refused to take,” said Senator Stott Despoja.

“How long should Australian women wait for something that other women have almost universally around the world? How many enquiries does a prospective government need, before it becomes convinced that assisting mothers to balance work and family - in practical ways - makes sense?

“And how long must we wait before the Coalition even step up to the discussion? Mr Howard remains silent on any action at all.”

In her interview with the same program on which Kim Beazley made his pledge, Senator Stott Despoja said, “While the old parties dither, we have offered a practical step forward that can be comfortably accommodated within the budget surplus, and by means of savings on unnecessary areas of Government spending.

The Australian Democrats, this week, proposed a policy of giving 12 weeks’ paid maternity leave for women as part of the Democrats’ ‘Work and Life’ election platform.

But the Coalition and the ALP have lagged well behind and cast doubt on any immediate maternity leave reforms. Yesterday Mr Beazley proposed an inquiry into its feasibility should the ALP win government this year.

“It is all a question of priorities,” concluded Senator Stott Despoja.

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