Editor: Do you have an opinion on Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme?
Me: Why yes, I have several.
The introduction of a universal scheme in this country was about helping those women and their babies catch up to the rest of us. For one to now argue, when advocating for Abbott’s scheme, that what is most needed by mothers is to transform the entitlement so that the greater your income the greater the amount you receive requires tricky lines. Just ask Abbott.
Even economics writer Jessica Irvine floundered: “But why pay wealthy women more than poorer women for performing essentially the same act of raising a child?”, she asked. “High income earning women embody a lot of skills and know how that boosts not only their own economic productivity but that of their children. Studies show that the children of highly educated women have better income prospects themselves.”
That’s nice, but the reason children with wealthier mothers perform better isn’t good breeding – it is because of the advantages afforded by wealth. If anything, this is an argument for financial assistance for children of poor families, not wealthy ones. Women in rural areas are among those more likely to become low income parents, which is why some National Party members are also troubled by Abbott’s scheme.
There is also a greater good with generous paid parental leave. It keeps women attached to the workforce. As a nation, it makes economic sense to support generous paid parental leave for everyone because it fosters growth, generates tax revenue and reduces retirement welfare expenditure.