March 10, 2014

The Prime Minister has admitted that his ‘signature’ Paid Parental Leave Scheme may not receive the support of the Parliament and may need to change.

Mr Abbott said:

 "Obviously, it has got to go through the Parliament, and sometimes things have to be negotiated through the Parliament.”

 [SMH 13th March 2014]

 This is an embarrassing admission from the Prime Minister, who is looking increasingly isolated following reports in today’s Australian Financial Review that former Liberal Treasurer Peter Costello personally advised Joe Hockey to scrap the scheme.

 The former Howard Government Treasurer reaffirmed the position he outlined in an article in 2010  in which he declared the scheme a “silly” idea that would reduce the global competitiveness of Australian businesses. 

 It’s no wonder Mr Abbott has been forced to make such an embarrassing admission.

Mr Costello is part of a growing list of prominent business people, industry groups, current and former LNP politicians who have spoken out against the scheme:

Late last month the Australian Financial Review reported that the Commission of Audit has recommended the Prime Minister scrap the scheme (AFR, 27th February 2014).

The Australian Industry Group has called on the Abbott Government to dump its “gold-plated” $5.5 billion scheme, amid growing concern in the business community about the proposed scheme’s affordability and fairness (AFR, 5 February 2014). The AIG re-iterated their total opposition to the scheme in today’s public session of the Senate Select Committee into the Abbott Government’s Commission of Audit.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry slammed the Coalition’s scheme and called for greater means testing that would "considerably improve both the scheme's affordability and fairness" (The Australian, 5 February 2014).

Charlotte Hayes, finance and administration manager at the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, said paying six months parental leave to women on salaries of $150,000 was too generous (AFR, 9th February 2014).

Innes Wilcox from the Australian Industry Group said: “The current system works well, there's no reason for it to change…” (ABC, 19 May 2013).

Peter Anderson the then CEO of ACCI, said: It is an excessive paid parental leave scheme…” (ABC, 19 May 2013).

Heather Ridout the then Chief Executive Australian Industry Group, said: “on any measure this is bad parental leave policy and it's bad tax policy”. (RN Breakfast - 9th March 2010).

Even amongst his own Coalition colleagues, the Prime Minister’s signature PPL policy is unpopular.

Nationals Senator, John Williams, recently refused to rule out crossing the floor to vote against the legislation in the Senate.

When asked directly if he would rule out crossing the floor, he said:

'I'm going to have discussions with the PM to see what the final plan will be.'


Last October, Senator Williams and Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi signalled they may vote against the "Rolls Royce" scheme.


In September 2013, Liberal Member for Tangney Dennis Jensen said:

"I do have significant concerns.”

"I think there are better ways to attack the overall problem: having affordable and easy access to childcare.”


In May last year, Liberal Member for Mitchell Alex Hawke said:

“The question is, is this good economic policy at this time, and my answer is no.”

[ALEX HAWKE - ABC AM – 6 MAY 2013]

In May 2013, Senator Alan Eggleston, Liberal Senator from Western Australia, said:

I think it should be supported but there seems to be widespread concern that the cost is pretty high at this current time.

[THE AUSTRALIAN – 14th May 2013]

On 23 August 2010, the Australian Financial Review quoted an unnamed National who described the scheme as “a heap of s**t”.

[AFR – 23 AUGUST 2013]

Peter Costello is not the only one of Tony Abbott’s former Ministerial colleagues to have expressed their disapproval of his PPL scheme:

Former Liberal Minister, Peter Reith said:

…it is obviously bad policy…

[ABC - 7th May 2010]

Former Finance Minister, Nick Minchin said:

I have been on the record many, many times as saying that I’m not a supporter of the paid parental leave scheme…

[5th May 2013]

The Prime Minister should face facts and scrap his unfair and unaffordable Paid Parental Leave Scheme.

13 MARCH 2014

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