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Speech on the need for fairer paid parental leave

On Tuesday 28 November 2023, I made a speech in Federal Parliament on the need for fairer paid parental leave. You can watch the full speech here or read the transcript below.



The Greens welcome the extension of the paid parental leave scheme. Increasing the availability of leave from 18 to 26 weeks is an important step forward in ensuring that parents are adequately supported in the crucial first few months of parenthood. But why do people have to wait for another three years to get the 26-week entitlement? Women have already waited over a decade for fairer paid parental leave. This should come much sooner, and we should be moving quickly to 52 weeks paid parental leave and paying superannuation on PPL.

Unions and business groups are united in their calls for a fairer PPL scheme that includes 52 weeks paid leave, superannuation and more incentives for both parents to share care from the outset, for its economic and social benefits—now, not staggered over the next three years. Australia has one of the weakest parental leave schemes globally. The experience in other countries puts beyond doubt that more equitable parental leave coupled with free child care improves women's workforce participation and helps shape the long-term sharing of care work.

The reintroduction of 'use it or lose it' provisions in this bill, the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (More Support for Working Families) Bill 2023, to encourage shared parenting is a welcome change. We've seen time and again in Scandinavian countries how this provision causes a huge jump in the number of dads taking leave, and that fairer sharing of care has been sustained for more than a decade. But Labor can and must do more to make the PPL scheme fairer, and immediately. The Women's Economic Equality Taskforce has again recommended that super be paid on PPL, a measure that would improve women's economic equality. But the government are making women wait to fund it, but can somehow find $313 billion for the stage 3 tax cuts. The Greens will be pushing to ensure Labor actually listens to WEET's advice, particularly regarding paying super on PPL and extending the scheme to 52 weeks.

Time out of the workforce and taking on more unpaid labour contributes to the gender pay gap and the super gap. By failing to pay super on parental leave, the government is increasing the risk that more women will retire into poverty. Women deserve fairer paid parental leave. It improves their economic security, reduces the gender pay gap and increases the likelihood of mothers returning to work. Fairer paid parental leave is a no-brainer that benefits everyone—parents, children and the economy. If we scrap the stage 3 tax cuts, we can easily afford it.

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