Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Abbott intends to institutionalize economic disadvantage for newborns?

Leader of both the Australian Liberal Party and Coalition Opposition, Tony Abbott, has announced his 'official unofficial' parental leave policy with an initial broad brush annual costing of over $3 billion per annum.

This is what Abbott told ABC TV Lateline:

TONY ABBOTT: Well, the total cost of this will be about $3.8 billion. About $1 billion will come from the baby bonus, $2.7 billion though I'm anticipating will come from a levy on the taxable incomes of larger businesses.

So what exactly does this mean at face value?

Abbott intends a Coalition federal government to directly pay 26 weeks parental leave to one parent of a new baby or adopted young child and he will set the payment rate at the equivalent of that parent's normal weekly pay packet to a wage/salary ceiling of $150,000 per annum.

Abbott intends to fund this cash transfer payment by taxing the top 3,000 plus profitable Australian businesses and to withdraw a billion dollars annually from the existing federal Baby Bonus scheme.

It is highly unlikely that the majority of parents taking advantage of the proposed parental leave payment will be drawn from employees of those companies paying the new annual tax.
The majority will in all probability be the female parent and be employed by exempt businesses.

Leaving aside the looming problem of convincing his Liberals-Nationals colleagues and big business that a narrowly focused levy is the way to go, there are other matters Tony Abbott needs to explain.

Like why a woman on minimum wage should have all of the 26 week installments of the Baby Bonus (totally $5,185 at last reckoning) counted towards the minimum wage equivalent parental payment coming from the federal government, when a woman normally earning thousands more over the same period and already much better off financially will be losing a lesser bonus amount and receiving sometimes many thousands more in direct government payment for looking after a newborn/adoptee.

Abbott intends to directly subsidize the more financially well-off mother and child at a higher weekly rate because that parent was fortunate enough to acquire a tertiary degree or other form of higher education/training along the way to decent wages and conditions.

Bottom line - Abbott intends the infants of ordinary working class women to receive less than their more affluent cousins.

Talk about rampant inequity and inequality.

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