August 27, 2015

SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s unfair cuts to Paid Parental Leave, Tony Abbott must roll out the National Disability Insurance Scheme in full and on time.

FRAN KELLY: Debate on a Government Bill to stop new mothers from double dipping on paid parental leave was postponed in the last sitting week. Next week a Senate committee is taking a look at the quote ‘Fairer’ Paid Parental Leave Bill in a one day hearing scheduled for next week. One submission to that inquiry has come from the Department of Social Services, which is in charge of delivering this payment, and that submission shows that nearly half of all women will lose at least some of their current paid parental leave entitlements, even women on relatively low salaries as low as $20,000 or $30,000 will lose some of their paid parental leave. Jenny Macklin is the Shadow Minister for Families and Payments and Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin good morning welcome to Breakfast.




KELLY: According to Department’s figures though more than half of women who receive the Government’s paid parental leave scheme won’t see any change to their leave payment because they’re on the Government scheme.


MACKLIN: That’s because they’re only getting the minimum now, they’re not getting any top-ups from their employers.


KELLY: And that’s the basis of the Government’s change isn’t it? They say it’s fairer that if only half of women are only getting access to the Government scheme why shouldn’t all?


MACKLIN: I think it’s a strange idea of fairness when you’re going to say to parents on incomes as low as $10,000 a year you could be losing some of your paid parental leave. 45,000 new parents will lose part of their paid parental leave and 34,000 parents will lose the full $11,500 that they currently get from the government’s paid parental leave scheme so it is going to have a very, very big impact on a lot of new mums and dads.


KELLY: So the ones who will lose all their current paid parental leave scheme are those fully funded work employer paid schemes. The Government argues that is higher earning women and it’s also mainly public servants is that what the submission tells us?


MACKLIN: No. The evidence in fact tells us that that’s not the case. There will be thousands of women working in the private sector or not-for-profit sector who will lose some or all of their paid parental leave. You might have seen Kate Carnell from the Chamber of Commerce say recently in her submission to the Senate inquiry that employers will try to get around this by offering support to new parents in other ways. I think it’s terrific to see that employers understand the value of paid parental leave, they in fact were always ahead of all governments in offering paid parental leave to many of their employees and when you’ve got Kate Carnell saying to the Government this is a really backward step, the Government’s not likely to get the full value of their savings because employers are going to offer support for parents in other ways. I think it really shows just how stupid this change that Scott Morrison’s trying to put through is.


KELLY: Well I guess we don’t know what employers will do but the chart from the Department shows that women who are eligible for a partial payment will receive on average around $4,300 less than under current arrangements. 




KELLY: These are median claimants on an annual income of around $43,000 so not big income earners.


MACKLIN: That’s exactly right. People like call centre workers, people working in shops where their employers give them a small amount of paid parental leave they may not be getting a large amount of extra paid parental leave from their employers. All of these part-time, casual women working in pretty low paid jobs they too are going to be affected by this change.


KELLY: It’s not just public servants is it?


MACKLIN: No it isn’t.


KELLY: According to the submission from the Department those eligible for a partial paid parental leave scheme rather than a full amount they’ve been getting so far, 62 per cent of those are in the private sector – will a lot of those be in the big shopping chains?


MACKLIN: They could be working in retail, they could be working in the banks – the banks have always paid good paid parental leave - they could be working as I mentioned before in call centres. So when we talk about public servants they’re not all highly paid public servants, the people who are likely to be badly affected by this change are low paid part-time casual public servants as well as the private sector workers you just talked about.


KELLY: Just to be clear on one thing, this submission from the Department does assume those 27 per cent of women who would have been eligible for the PPL - the government’s scheme and the employer scheme – will only get part of the PPL, but that is assuming that employer keeps their scheme in place. Is there any part of this law that says that if there is an employer scheme now that has to stay?


MACKLIN: No there is not and there hasn’t ever been. It’s always been up to the employers and workers with their unions negotiating these top-ups and this is the scheme you might recall was designed for us by the Productivity Commission who saw that the government should provide a base scheme, then recommended that employers and employees negotiate top-ups. But there is no requirement for the employers to continue to pay the top-up other than through their award or enterprise bargaining agreements. As Kate Carnell said employers are going to find other ways to deliver so that they can keep the employees that they value.


KELLY: Our guest is the Shadow Minister for Families and Payments and Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin. If I can switch to the area of disability in your portfolio, you’re calling on the Federal Government to immediately sign the agreement with New South Wales to roll out in full the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the NDIS. What’s your concern because they’re still in a trial phase aren’t they?


MACKLIN: It’s in a trial phase in New South Wales and the trial has been going very well in the Hunter region where I’ve been over the last couple of days. But we know that New South Wales is ready to go and to sign the agreement for the full rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme right across New South Wales. You would have seen reported in the Financial Review last week that Joe Hockey apparently was raising concerns in the Expenditure Review Committee seeking to delay the full rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. So it’s as a result of that leak from the Expenditure Review Committee and other information that we have that the New South Wales agreement has just been sat on by Tony Abbott that I’m calling for them to get on with it so that people with disability in New South Wales at least, really it applies to the rest of Australia as well, but we know New South Wales is ready to go. So let’s get the agreement signed.


KELLY: The Minister for Disability Services, Mitch Fifield, says that there’s nothing to worry about, the Government remains committed. Let’s listen to him:


FIFIELD: There’s no delay in relation to New South Wales. The discussions and negotiations are going extremely well and I hope in the very near future to have something to announce in relation to that.


KELLY: That’s the Minister Mitch Fifield speaking on Sky a few days ago. No delay.


MACKLIN: That’s right, that’s what he says.


KELLY: Doesn’t that reassure you?


MACKLIN: If only they would get out there and actually publish – make clear to all people in New South Wales - when and where it will be rolled out. I’m on the Central Coast today, Mitch Fifield was here yesterday, he was not able to tell them when they’ll get the National Disability Insurance Scheme rolled out here on the Central Coast or other parts of New South Wales.


KELLY: Has anyone from New South Wales told you it’s not going to be rolled out immediately?


MACKLIN: I’ve been told that New South Wales is ready to go and it’s up to the Federal Government now to announce all this publically – that’s what I’m calling on them to do.


KELLY: Jenny Macklin thanks very much for joining us.


MACKLIN: Thank you Fran.