After declaring that paid parental leave (PPL) would only happen over the Howard government’s 'dead body', Tony Abbott is now determined to introduce one that is meeting with opposition from many quarters.
Highly regarded economist, Saul Eslake, maintains that Abbotts scheme is unlikely to increase productivity or workforce participation. Big business representatives such as Business Council Australia and the big four banks are also hostile, the latter even indicating they will pass on the annual costs of $80-$115 million each to customers and shareholders.
Ged Kearney, president of the ACTU, questions its fairness as well as Abbott’s motives for delaying it until 2015. Even members of the Coalition have indicated they might well cross the floor when the legislation is introduced.
Research has also exploded the myth of it being a 'catch-up exercise' with OECD countries. The UK and New Zealand do not even have schemes comparable to Labor’s present arrangement and the US does not offer any paid parental leave.
Abbott’s PPL is a mega-version of Peter Costello’s middle class handouts which were an important factor that contributed to the onset of Australia’s structural deficit in 2006-7. Given its $5.5 billion cost per year, one has to wonder what happened to Abbott’s slogan of “no new taxes”.