Goonellabah mother Jaime Bates, with her seven-month-old son Dash, said the introduction of paid maternity leave was long overdue.
Goonellabah mother Jaime Bates, with her seven-month-old son Dash, said the introduction of paid maternity leave was long overdue. The Northern Star

New Lismore mum applauds paid maternity leave

THE owner of Baby Bella in Lismore, Jaime Bates, was back at work one week after having her son, Dash.

Under the proposed taxpayer-funded scheme, Mrs Bates would have been entitled to 18 weeks' paid maternity leave at a minimum wage of $544 a week.

The Productivity Commission has recommended the Federal Government adopt the scheme, which will replace the $5000 baby bonus at a cost to the Commonwealth of $450 million a year.

The commission will seek public consultations on the proposed model and hand down a final report to the Government in February.

Speaking at a child daycare centre in Sydney yesterday, Federal Families Minister Jenny Macklin said while details of the scheme were up for debate, the scheme itself was not.

Not everyone is happy about the plan, with employers, who have been asked to contribute $75 million a year in superannuation payments, crying foul and saying they will essentially be paymasters of the scheme.

But Ms Macklin insisted parental leave was 'good for business'.

"The business community must realise it costs money to lose employees due to a lack of leave assistance," she said.

Mrs Bates said the scheme sounded like a great idea and it was about time Australia caught up to the rest of world.

"When I had my first child I was living in the United Kingdom and everyone was saying I should stay there to have my baby because they have paid maternity leave. Everyone was shocked to hear we didn't," she said.

UK mothers get 39 weeks government-funded leave. Australia is one of only two developed countries that don't have a national system of paid maternity leave.

Under the scheme, mothers would be able to take 18 weeks' paid maternity leave and fathers two weeks, or vice-versa.

Both would be paid at the minimum wage rate of $544 a week, to a maximum per couple of $11,854 before tax, with their employer paying superannuation.

Non-working mothers will be eligible for a $6800 pre-tax allowance.


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