Federal Minister Jenny Macklin (centre) and Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin explain the benefits of the Government’s new Paid Parental Leave scheme to local mum Abbie Lyte, with baby Indigo, seven months, at the Goonellabah Shopping Centre.
Federal Minister Jenny Macklin (centre) and Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin explain the benefits of the Government’s new Paid Parental Leave scheme to local mum Abbie Lyte, with baby Indigo, seven months, at the Goonellabah Shopping Centre. Jay Cronan

Parental pay benefits businesses

A REVOLUTIONARY government program will drastically improve the financial situation of soon-to-be mothers, a Federal Minister said yesterday.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin,visited department store Target in Goonellabah, where employees are now entitled to 12 weeks parental leave on half-pay up to $500 a week.

When Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme is implemented in January next year, Target employees will be able to combine their parental leave schemes with the Federal scheme to either receive more money or longer leave.

Ms Macklin said the scheme was good for families and for businesses.

“They will be able to put together money they rec-eive from the Target paid parental leave scheme and money from the Federal Government PPL so they can spend more time with their newborn babies,” she said.

“The problem has been that for many low-income earners, and casual and part-timers, there has been no paid parental leave. Parents now will be able to get 18 weeks of PPL at the Federal minimum wage, which is about $570 a week.”

But it’s not just major chain store employees who will benefit from the new scheme.

“We’ll make the money available to small businesses and they will just pay the money over to mum or dad on a regular pay cycle,” Ms Macklin said. “We will make sure the money is in the bank account for small businesses before they have to make the payment.”

Before the legislation was passed, Australia was the second-last country in the developed world, next to America, not to have a PPL scheme.

Despite criticism from the Opposition, the Labor Party believes its scheme is adequate.

“Mr Abbott, of course, had famously said he would introduce a PPLover his dead body,” Ms Macklin said.

“Now he wants to put a new tax on businesses, so that everybody will pay two per cent more for everything that they buy to fund his PPL.”

To be eligible for the PPL, parents must earn less than $150,000 a year, have worked for at least 10 of the 13 months prior to birth of their child, and for at least 330 hours.

Meanwhile, Ms Macklin said a new pension payment system was introduced on July 1 which aims to give pensioners financial flexibility, as well as support for carers.

“If pensioners need extra money, maybe to get new tyres on their car or maybe their fridge has broken down and they need to get an advance, we are extending it from the current $500 to more than $1000 so pensioners can meet those unexpected expenses,” she said.

Pensioners are also given the option of receiving their Pension Supplement quarterly, rather than fortnightly. Also, carers will receive an annual $600 supplement for each person they care for.



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