Politics, paid parental leave and migraines

As an urban, socially progressive liberal (no, not ‘Liberal’ … just liberal), I usually find modern Australian politics migraine inducing. My recent piece on incompetence in politics may have been a giveaway of my general attitude about the contemporary political landscape, but the outfall from the second budget by the current Government has sent me straight into a spiralling, throbbing migraine.

The first budget of the Abbott Government was an unmitigated economic, political and social disaster which, together with a few other choice ‘captain’s calls‘, almost culminated in Tony Abbott losing the Prime Ministership. It appears if it wasn’t for a conservative Christian email campaign to save him, we would most likely be under the leadership of Prime Minister Turnbull by now.

The second attempt by the Abbott Government at a budget has also proved to be a bit of a shemozzle as highlighted by recent, less than complimentary headlines:

PPLIt didn’t help that Scott Morrison, our illustrious former Immigration Minister, now Social Services Minister, called some new mothers ‘rorters’ and Treasurer Joe Hockey was linked to agreeing with comments accusing them of ‘fraud’?!

After all, how dare these mooching mothers take a government provided paid parental leave and then supplement it by their employers’ paid parental leave, especially when the government scheme was … always intended to complement, and not be a substitute for, arrangements workers made with their employers?! The fact the wives of senior Government Ministers have done exactly the same is, of course, utterly irrelevant!

Admittedly the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll indicates the Government’s second budget has improved its standing with voters, even though the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry already warned some employers may respond by dumping their own paid parental leave schemes, which would be an unintended and socially regressive outcome.

PPL signaturePaid parental leave was meant to be Tony Abbott’s signature policy as Minister for Women, and the enduring legacy of his Prime Ministership. His latest budget may now unravel decades of progress and that would have a negative impact on children’s health.

Walking away from a decent paid parental leave scheme, both an economic and social imperative, to save an estimated $1 billion over three years, is very disappointing. Especially considering the policies, projects and schemes the Government managed to find funding for, including:

just to mention a few.

The admittedly brutal, but incompetent post-budget interviews by Government Ministers didn’t help selling this latest budget either.

(Treasurer Joe Hockey talks to Leigh Sales on the ABC’s 7.30)

(Finance Minister Mathias Cormann talks to Emma Alberici on the ABC’s Lateline)

(Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull talks to Waleed Aly on Channel Ten’s The Project)

It remains to be seen whether the proposed changes to paid parental leave will find sufficient support in the Senate.

And all this brings me right back to the incompetence of politics, and one giant migraine.

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