Thursday, 14 May 2015

Australian Prime Minister and Minister for Women Tony Abbott's double dipping lie is an insult to working women

On Mother’s Day 2015 the Abbott Government announced that it would be removing all or part of federal paid parental scheme payments to an estimated 79,000 working women who take maternity leave from 1 July 2016 onwards.

Under federal legislation these women had an expectation of receiving up to $11,500 for maternity leave of 18 weeks duration.

In the interview with Laurie Oakes the Treasurer Joe Hockey used the word double-dipping to describe the lawful right of working women to access both the federal paid parental leave scheme and that of their employer if there was one in place:

At the moment people can claim parental leave payments from both the government and their employers so they are effectively double dipping. We’re going to stop that. You can’t double dip, you can’t get both parental leave pay from your employer and from taxpayers.

The Double Dipping Lie Was Repeated In The 2015-16 Budget Papers Two Days Later

This is an extract from the consolidated Budget Measures Budget Paper No. 2 2015-16:

Removing Double-Dipping from Parental Leave Pay

The Government will achieve savings of $967.7 million over four years by removing the ability for individuals to double dip when applying for the existing Parental Leave Pay (PLP) scheme, from 1 July 2016. Currently individuals are able to access Government assistance in the form of PLP, in addition to any employer-provided parental leave entitlements. The Government will remove the ability for individuals to double dip, by taking payments from both their employer and the Government.

The Truth About The Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave Scheme

This is an extract from the Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave Act 2010:
Division 1A—Object of this Act
             (1)  The object of this Act is to provide financial support to primary carers (mainly birth mothers) of newborn and newly adopted children, in order to:
                     (a)  allow those carers to take time off work to care for the child after the child’s birth or adoption; and
                     (b)  enhance the health and development of birth mothers and children; and
                     (c)  encourage women to continue to participate in the workforce; and
                     (d)  promote equality between men and women, and the balance between work and family life.
             (2)  Generally, the financial support is provided only to primary carers who have a regular connection to the workforce.
             (3)  The financial support provided by this Act is intended to complement and supplement existing entitlements to paid or unpaid leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child. [my red bolding]

It is noticeable that the main budget decision-makers in 2015, all six members of the federal Expenditure Review Committee, are privileged white males living off the public purse - with one receiving a salary higher than that of the U.S. president and another being a millionaire many times over.

It is also worth noting that this scaling back of the federal paid parental leave scheme was not put to voters at the last general election.


It would seem that despite their attempts to vilify working mothers, Coalition MPs not only voted with the then Labor Government to introduce paid parental leave - some of their wives/partners accessed both the government and their employer's leave schemes.

ABC News 14 May2015:

Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has revealed his wife claimed paid parental leave payments from her employer and the Government, as Labor steps up its attacks on the Coalition's plan to stop women benefiting from two schemes.

"We accessed both schemes as my wife was entitled to and there are many people I'm sure on both sides of the House who have done that," Mr Frydenberg told Sky News.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who is also on cabinet's Expenditure Review Committee, has deflected questions about whether his wife claimed money from two schemes.

Earlier today Senator Cormann described the Coalition's push to stop women getting two payments as a "fairness measure" and defended the Government calling it "double dipping".

But this afternoon, under questioning from Labor senator Sam Dastyari, Senator Cormann did not deny his wife received benefits from her employer and the Government PPL scheme.

"Let me confirm for him that I have indeed had a little child in 2013 and that our family of course worked within a system that was available at the time like any other family and that my family will work within whatever system is in place in the future," Senator Cormann said.

The Australian 17 June 2010:

AUSTRALIA has its first universal paid parental leave scheme, catching up with the rest of the developed world, after the Coalition voted with the Rudd government to back the historic legislation.

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