Familism meets feminism

Like big business and the some (most?) in the Coalition party room, I’m not keen on Tony Abbott’s ‘big new tax’ plan to fund an exceptionally generous income-maintaining parental leave policy.

On the other hand, I do think it is a natural evolution of recent Australian conservative thinking. As it put it in my ‘big government conservatism’ article a few years ago:

Modern conservatism.. does not actively discourage or prevent departures from the norm in social and family relationships. So no-fault divorce stays, [and] single parent benefits are retained … . Rather, modern conservatism uses the state’s financial resources to ‘support families in the choices they wish to make’, to ‘help families struggling with the challenges of modern life’.

What this means is the ‘familist’ state increasingly contributes to activities which were once the family’s responsibility. The massive expansion in the FTB scheme and the baby bonus under Howard, and the rapid expansion in childcare subsidies, are all part of this. Parental leave is a logical extension of this trend. Indeed, the social science case for full-time parenting in the first six months of a baby’s life is far stronger than the case for the FTB handouts.

Abbott defends his scheme in these evolutionary terms:

…on the issue of paid parental leave, I consider that I have changed my mind rather than my values. I have always placed a high value on having children but now have a better appreciation of the policies that are needed if this is to be a more realistic option.

Over at Lavartus Prodeo, Paul Norton (no relation) argues that feminism has taken over the Liberal Party. This is not in the sense that the people who call themselves feminists are directly influential on Liberals, but in the sense that feminists contributed to social and economic changes that conservative familists – people who want to promote the family as a functioning unit – must now deal with if they are to achieve their pro-family goals. Given how families do in fact operate today, women’s workforce participation is a fact that simply has to be accommodated.

Conservative familists and feminists have differences on parental leave. Feminism’s close connections with left-wing politics means that the inegalitarian nature of Abbott’s scheme isn’t being supported. But these are differences of detail. The familists and feminists are on the same side of the policy debate.

——

10 March update: My CIS colleague Jessica Brown sensibly advocates parental leave as part of an overall reform of family benefits. Given the vast spending on family benefits, it could easily be done in a budget neutral way.

40 Responses to “Familism meets feminism

  • 1
    skepticlawyer
    March 10th, 2010 00:13

    Indeed, the social science case for full-time parenting in the first six months of a baby’s life is far stronger than the case for the FTB handouts.

    Bingo. And less ‘churn-y’, too.

    As I said over at LP, France combines income splitting with generous maternity leave and childcare policies, and has the high birthrate that one would expect from facilitating choice in that way. I don’t think there’s a shadow of a doubt that Tony wants more babies — I’m sure he’s even said that in various places. He’s just realised that if that’s what he wants, he has to shape practical policy accordingly.

    And yes, it is very big government conservative.

  • 2
    conrad
    March 10th, 2010 04:41

    It seems like money for the rich to me — the more you have the more you get (and what happens if you don’t earn anything to start with?). I thought Kruddy’s proposal was better where you get the minimum wage across the board for a certain amount of time. In addition, if they want to spend billions more, cheaper child-care for longer would probably be better than frittering away huge amounts directly subsidizing rich people.
    .
    It seems to me that this is likely to be quite damaging for the Liberals — not because people do don’t happen to like maternity leave — but because it’s amazing that their leader is happy to propose spending billions, funded by new taxes, obviously without thinking too hard beforehand. I think they may as well forget about arguing about Krudd’s potential new taxes to fix the hospitals etc. or economic performance anymore. This basically leaves them with only a smear campaign given their lack of ideas on anything else.

  • 3
    Andrew Norton
    March 10th, 2010 05:10

    Conrad – On your first point, it is a matter of competing policy logics. If the policy goal is to actually encourage women to take the full six months, the minimum wage won’t be a sufficient incentive for many. So from Abbott’s familist perspective full compensation makes sense. But if you are an egalitarian or want lower taxes then the minimum wage makes sense, as providing some assistance to the family budget during a period of reduced income (with the expectation that higher-income families will income-smooth by saving for what is usually a planned birth) while minimising conflict with other political objectives.

    I’m cautious in rushing to political judgment, given that parental leave is popular in itself, but certainly there is a plausible case that the tax element is a major political misjudgment. On the other hand Abbott appointed someone as finance spokesman who is vague on the difference between millions and billions and continues to worsen the budget deficit by rejecting reasonable Labor spending cuts, but still comes out ahead in the polls on economic management.

  • 4
    Ros
    March 10th, 2010 06:20

    Child endowment was, if I understand, a familist payment, but so what, it gave women one small financial gain.

    The hypocrisy of this argument is daunting, including from the Rideouts clamouring that it is a bad idea because it will disadvantage women in getting employment. What they might be more likely to be employed as casuals or on contract. That complaint says more about Ms Rideout than it does about the announced policy.

    A House of Reps committee argued in Nov 2009 that long service leave should be made portable because women missed out on a range of payments and benefits because their child bearing role meant they had lengthy breaks from work. The report acknowledged the government’s about to happen maternity leave legislation, but said more was required. Now 26 weeks paid maternity leave makes a lot more sense than LSL, and where are the voices clamouring for LSL to be minimum wage only, that LSL for men should be about equity and income redistribution, not about payment according to their earnings. To say that this form of leave payment should be limited to minimum wage is to say that women work merely to supplement the man’s income. Thought we had moved on from that.

    While women would probably be full time workers prior to the birth of their first child, I suspect that most are part time when the second comes. Is whoever is doing the sums to prove that this is an unfair employment cost factoring in the differences in women’s working lives and earnings.

    Then of course there are the calls to address pay inequity for women. While this will only apply, obviously to women bearing children, nevertheless it is another small financial gain for women in an inequitably paid workforce and where it seems the women in a position to assist, like Rideout, actually don’t give a hoot.

    I did consider paid maternity leave to be a social cost rather than an employment cost until listening to Marion Baird yesterday. The fact that a number of large companies (IKEA was the only one that stuck) already pay 26 full pay says that a range of employers consider it is an employment cost, not a social one. So who cares if it has familist tendencies, it addresses some of the equity disadvantages for women in the workforce that is absolutely the RESPONSIBILITY of employers.

    My suggestion, remove LSL and replace it with 26 weeks fully paid maternity leave and enough of this minimum wage BS. This should be about acknowledging the value of women in the workforce, not another envy attack by the left, or ripping off of women by the large whinging employers who happily free ride on the fact that other employers understand and pay appropriately for their women employees.

  • 5
    M
    March 10th, 2010 06:58

    The whole idea of properly paid parental leave is to make the decision to have kids about having kids, not dominated by financial stress. One of the main reasons why women are having babies later (which is medically not optimal) is that financial pressures (primarily mortgage) force them to delay.

    The problem with a minimum wage version is that then breeding in society will be done predominantly by lower income women (for whom the minimum wage is not a massive income drop) or women married to very high income men.

  • 6
    conrad
    March 10th, 2010 07:05

    “My suggestion, remove LSL and replace it with 26 weeks fully paid maternity leave and enough of this minimum wage BS. This should be about acknowledging the value of women in the workforce”
    .
    If you’re interested in workforce participation, then surely free or cheap childcare should be a more important consideration. I would think that is the main reason why France gets high female workforce participation.
    .
    “To say that this form of leave payment should be limited to minimum wage is to say that women work merely to supplement the man’s income. ”
    .
    I don’t understand that point, especially because I think the payment should be similar for both men and women (no doubt Abbott doesn’t) — can you elaborate on the argument that must be behind that — I’m not sure you’ve given one apart from assertion? Is it similar, for example, to the euro-argument where you get unemployment benefits that are some proportion of what your salary was or is it a different line of reasoning in this case?

  • 7
    Andrew Norton
    March 10th, 2010 07:09

    “One of the main reasons why women are having babies later (which is medically not optimal) is that financial pressures (primarily mortgage) force them to delay.”

    M – Is this really so? Almost no woman will have paid off a normal length mortgage before having her first child.

    I’ll have to examine the data again, but when I did a paper six or seven years ago on the alleged impact of HECS on fertility, I found that the difference between education levels was primarily in their relationship status, ie the main reason educated women had fewer kids was that fewer of them had male partners.

  • 8
    Peter Whiteford
    March 10th, 2010 08:19

    My reading is that 26 weeks at 100% replacement (even with a ceiling) would make this the most generous maternity leave scheme in the OECD. However other countries also have paid parental leave and paternity leave, so if you factor these in this scheme if introduced would be about the 15th most generous in the OECD.

    Figures are available here under indicator PF7

    The government scheme in contrast is highly redistributive – this is because the payment is at the full-time equivalent of the minimum wage. As a result, women who work part-time at low wages can actually get replacement rates over 100% from the government proposal. This is likely to also benefit women who already have a child and are working part-time, since women are more likely to be working full-time before the birth of their first child.

    Some targeting towards lower paid, part-time and casual female workers seems justified to me since better paid women are more likely to already have paid maternity leave provided by their employers (although probably not for 26 weeks). In this sense, the government scheme appears more likely to fill existing gaps in coverage – including for the self-employed.

  • 9
    Battlelines at Catallaxy Files
    March 10th, 2010 09:24

    [...] Abbott is a big-government conservative in the John Howard mold. This is hardly surprising – Andrew Norton diagnosed this issue some time ago. The logic underpinning his parental leave proposal is set out [...]

  • 10
    Russell
    March 10th, 2010 09:31

    “the ‘familist’ state increasingly contributes to activities which were once the family’s responsibility”
    .
    When I was growing up there were women ‘homemakers’ taking care of those responsibilities – the man’s wage was enough to supprot a family. That isn’t the case now and I don’t think we can blame the feminists for that economic shift – it now takes two incomes to feel you’re able to maintain an ‘average’ lifestyle.
    .
    Neoliberals were happy to move the share of wealth from wage earners to investors of capital, well, now you’ll pay to fix up the consequences of that shift.

  • 11
    Tom N.
    March 10th, 2010 09:58

    Neoliberals were happy to move the share of wealth from wage earners to investors of capital, well, now you’ll pay to fix up the consequences of that shift.

    Parental subsidies discriminate between parents and childless/childfree people; not between capitalists and workers. Thus, even if your supposed ‘share of wealth shift’ theory warranted weight, it would not justify parental subsidies, but rather redistribution to all non-investors, regardless of parental status.

  • 12
    Andrew Norton
    March 10th, 2010 10:10

    Russell – The main reason women work is that few people want to live the way people did when you were growing up (some do, but these days it is called ‘downshifting’). In real terms, a man’s wage is much higher than it was then. The extra income of women, along with the higher income of men, has funded a big increase in material living standards.

  • 13
    Russell
    March 10th, 2010 10:12

    No, because the childless aren’t bearing the costs (of children) that ordinary people can no longer bear as the wealth is moved from ordinary people to the rich.

  • 14
    Russell
    March 10th, 2010 10:20

    Sorry I was answering Tom N.

    Andrew, what does it matter that real wages are higher now then whenever – no doubt they’re higher than they were in 1300 – the costs of living are much higher, yes, to support ever increasing material standards of wealth. Most ordinary people need two full-time ordinary incomes to live – with less they would be at the bottom of society, and in that sense, poor.
    .
    I recently heard ex-Australian of the Year Fiona Stanley say she was able to have a career because she employed a full-time nanny to look after her children. She could afford it. As ordinary people get relatively poorer they will rely on the state for more and more. That’s the neoliberal future. (Well, after the global financial crisis, it hasn’t got much of a future.)

  • 15
    Tom N.
    March 10th, 2010 10:42

    Russel’s argument, were it valid, presumably relies in part on the notion that, pre-neoliberalism, parents could afford children but now they can’t – at least not without giving up a bunch of other stuff. However, as Andrew has pointed out, real wages – which already take into account changes in the cost of living – are much higher than they were before the neoliberal period, so the stuff they’re giving up to have kids now is stuff they couldn’t have afforded before neoliberalism anyway!

    And even if this were not the case, the simple fact remains that parental subsidies affect the relativies between parents and non-parents – not workers and capitalists. I’m still waiting to see a good argument as to why the latter should further subsidise the lifestyle choices of the former. Of course, its true that childless people don’t bear the (private) costs of children. Equally though, they don’t obtain the benefits of parenthood.

  • 16
    Russell
    March 10th, 2010 11:07

    I always think that economists can never measure anything properly (I’ll make an exception for Peter Whiteford and am now wishing I hadn’t de-railed this thread away from his comment) so am unconvinced about this real wages thing.
    .
    So if we’re comparing real wages with 50 years ago, a man’s wage could buy an average house (and a lot of people had war service loans at very low rates) – that house would have had two or three bedrooms and one bathroom. (There were seven of us in our house). Cities were much smaller so suburbs were near facilities. You walked or rode a bike to school. Mum was at home cooking, cleaning and looking after baby, and later, the grandparents.
    .
    What type of house are we talking about when we’re looking at what an ordinary wage can buy now? The average house is twice as big, miles from anywhere and both Mum and Dad need cars to drive to work and take junior to school – probably a private school if they’re in high school. On one wage they will be relatively poor. Wages of ordinary people didn’t keep pace with providing an OK standard of living, so now you need two. And we’ll have to pay to have the children and the old people looked after.
    .
    “Of course, its true that childless people don’t bear the (private) costs of children. Equally though, they don’t obtain the benefits of parenthood.” Well, they will obtain the benefit of those children becoming taxpayers and keeping society going. But we’ve had this disagreement before – I think society owes people the conditions to be able to bring up children without being poor for doing so. You don’t.
    .
    Now let’s forget I provided this alternative perspective, and go on from Peter Whiteford’s comment. He knows precisely what he’s talking about.

  • 17
    Son of the Ratpack
    March 10th, 2010 11:08

    Why should the childless bear the costs of parents in their taxes? Probably for the same reason that the healthy bear the costs of the ill, non-drivers bear the costs of drivers, non-users of public transport bear the costs of public transport users, people who live in cities subsidise people who live in the country etc etc etc. If this is a problem, the Robinson Crusoe option is the solution.

  • 18
    Tom N.
    March 10th, 2010 11:44

    SOR – if you have a good argument as to why parents should be subsidised by the childless, feel free to make it. Observing that there are other cross subsidies kicking around that may (or may not) be justified doesn’t do it.

    Russell – as I’ve also pointed out in the past, if I recall correctly, the taxes for services in old age also doesn’t justify additional subsidies to parents.

    However, like you, I’m not particularly keen to rehearse all those arguments again.

    T.

  • 19
    M
    March 10th, 2010 11:56

    Andrew my point is that mortgage debt is now set by what 2 incomes can afford at purchase time. At some point you can afford to not have one of those incomes for a few years (especially if the other income has risen substantially). The trouble is that the point of single income affordability is shifting later for most couples.

  • 20
    M
    March 10th, 2010 12:11

    Tom N, children are a societal benefit once they grow up. Someone’s kids have to be in the army to keep out the various foreigners once I get old and omniphobic. The cost of having children, like everything else, has risen dramatically. Its a public benefit to make those costs more manageable. Since cost control of housing, schooling, medical and every other child related expense isn’t working and is unlikely to.

    Money shouldn’t be the deciding factor on whether or not people have kids. Unfortunately for a lot of people it is becoming a major driver of the timing.

    Or looked at another way. Its probably cheaper for society if people have their kids when they are younger due to the genetic issues that are correlated with aging eggs and sperm.

  • 21
    Andrew Norton
    March 10th, 2010 12:17

    M – Or house prices have been bid up by two-income households, inflicting a big negative externality on single people, who then pay again to compensate the two-income households for the financial strain caused by their mortgage!

  • 22
    conrad
    March 10th, 2010 12:25

    “Its a public benefit to make those costs more manageable”
    .
    I guess that depends whether you really care about how much difference all of these benefits, taxes, and rules that are used to pay for the extra birth rate makes (and indeed the cost of administering them all). If, for example, we could get rid of all of these and the number of kids people have on average went from 1.9 to 1.7, many would consider that an acceptable outcome — it’s not like Australia is going to shrink with large immigration numbers.

  • 23
    Russell
    March 10th, 2010 12:50

    Andrew – that’s a good point, no doubt many women saw the homemaker role as boring drudgery and were keen to be in the paid workforce. But it wasn’t just the combined incomes that enabled the bidding up, it was also the much easier money the banks and others lent. A lot of profit was made out that. Perhaps more regulation required?

  • 24
    Son of the Ratpack
    March 10th, 2010 12:54

    “Or house prices have been bid up by two-income households, inflicting a big negative externality on single people”

    There’s nothing to stop two single people putting their money together to buy a house.

  • 25
    Andrew Norton
    March 10th, 2010 13:11

    “There’s nothing to stop two single people putting their money together to buy a house.”

    It happens occasionally, but generally it is too complex an arrangement for people who don’t have a long-term relationship. After all, a mortage is more legally binding than a marriage.

  • 26
    Baz (the ordinary Aussie)
    March 10th, 2010 14:58

    I think a bit of all arguments here deserve a play. Yes, I think there is a case for families to get support. Starting with positive externalities, without children, there is no future for our civilisation / society – note that Children and aliens are not homogenous. Also, as Rusty points out, families can be people in need. And if you agree that other people in society can be in need (elderly, orphans, sick etc), then why not young families – the precendent has already been set.
    The key is how much support to give. 50 years ago, housing was cheap. Rusty is right! A regular bloke could afford a regular house a bring up a family. In fact, society looked down on you if you had to force your wife to work to make ends meet.
    This can’t be done now. house prices are at ridiculous levels. And it’s not due to DINKs, or singles or baby boomers buying up the market. It’s due to the greenies and government regulation constraining supply. Moreover, Government taxation is much, much higher than 50 years ago. With tax and house prices, the regular bloke can’t get by.
    So unfortunately we have this chicken and egg game – we are so taxed and regulated that we can’t afford kids unless we are given welfare, which in turn means more taxation!
    Given this context, how does the Abbott policy fit in. It’s an absolute shocker! The impost on business will be huge, it will further deter business hiring women (expect the wage gap to widen), it’s unnecessary (there’s enough support already) and it counters Abbott’s hits on labour about a big taxing government.
    If this is a non core promise to attain government – well maybe. But there’s no point being a conservative – in power or not -, if you don’t support conservative values

  • 27
    Ros
    March 10th, 2010 15:25

    Thanks for the question Conrad, apologies was busy with women’s domestic and community tasks. If I understand you Conrad you think that I should have substantiated the proposition that women’s pay was up until several decades ago at best, calculated in part on the basis that their presence in the workforce was, at least when married, just about supplementing the male breadwinners income. Maybe it is a myth perpetuated by women, but it is certainly a commonly held view. However, in theory, the social norms have moved to accepting that women also choose to work as a social right. Very importantly it is recognised that in a world competing for skilled people women are a necessary part of the workforce. So, pay them leave commensurate in value with other kinds of leave.
    It is the case that some forms of leave granted may be unpaid, but what paid leave other than maternity is restricted to the minimum wage. Whatever child birth leave is available to men, the social norms here have not moved to early child care being equally distributed between men and women. The paternity leave argument is I reckon a red herring. Hence birth leave is almost totally about women. A reasonable conclusion is that it is paid less because women’s work is considered to be a supplement to family income, hence less critical or necessary, so is worth less.
    Anyway, Abbott’s proposal is hardly that radical. It seems likely that the EU is about to legislate for the minimum maternity leave to be 20 weeks at full pay. Then there is the Rolls Royce of maternity leave, Norway. “56 weeks (13 months) (80%) or 46 weeks (10.5 months) (100%) – mother must take at least 3 weeks immediately before birth and 9 weeks immediately after birth, father must take at least 10 weeks – the rest can be shared between mother and father”. The UN pays 14 weeks at full pay. The Norwegians seem to think that their maternity/parenting leave (whatever one chooses to call it), is value for money. Rudd’s proposal doesn’t go anywhere near catching us up with where maternity leave is going, and the likelihood that it would be visited again without years passing is slight. To argue that how it should be paid for is one thing, to support the notion that women should be paid only the minimum wage when on maternity leave by taxpayers, not the beneficiaries of their work and skills, is well past its use by date. Again, get rid of leave that was about public servants being entitled to a trip back home, and recognise that maternity leave is an employment cost which is exceeded by the benefits for employers, and pay women at least 26 weeks on full pay.

  • 28
    Ros
    March 10th, 2010 15:36

    Not all business thinks it is a bad idea.

    “Jaye Radisich, CEO of the Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) said that Tony Abbott’s scheme would mean that women in the workforce would receive leave at their existing salary level regardless of whether they are employed by big business, small business or if they work for themselves.

    “COSBOA has had a policy in support of universal paid parental leave for quite some time,” Ms Radisich said.

    “This step would place small business employees on an equal footing with those employees who work for big businesses and government that already have generous paid parental leave schemes in place.”

    “Tony Abbott’s proposal is welcome because it supports small businesses that employ women and does not appear to shift any administrative burden to small business”

  • 29
    Andrew Norton
    March 10th, 2010 15:43

    Naturally businesses that get a free benefit are not against.

  • 30
    Ros
    March 10th, 2010 16:14

    As does big business who advocate that the taxpayer pay an inescapable component of workplace costs (or benefits depending on how you view women).

    Abbott on men. Of course it is open to everyone to just declare him a pathological liar if they so choose.

    “Every woman who is in the workforce before the birth of her child should have the option of six months’ parental leave or of a similar option for her partner.”

    And of course there is this, “Women breastfeed after they’ve been bathing in estrogen during a nine month pregnancy, so obviously it takes some time. But if he works on it regularly he’ll likely notice a layer of tissue forming beneath the areola and it should be possible to produce enough of the hormone prolactin to cause lactation,”

    Some of his reasons.
    “In my book, Battlelines, I proposed a national parental leave scheme that would give the principal carer for a newborn six months leave at her or his standard salary. It should be for six months because that’s the recommended minimum period for exclusive breastfeeding and because it gives parents and babies time to bond. It should be at the carer’s salary (at least up to a generous cap) because that’s the only way to avoid serious stress on the family budget until both parents can resume working or until adjustments can be made to family finances.”

    2 years is considered the best, but it is acknowledged in Australia that the call for 2 years has a negative effect on the levels of breastfeeding hence 6 months has been nominated as adequate, and has a positive effect on breastfeeding rates.

    Christopher Pearson commented on LP about Abbott’s move on maternity leave when he was writing Battlelines. It was ignored. I am feeling really angry at the chauvinism of the attackers of his policy. Have the likes of LP even read what he has written.

    There is the argument that changing behaviour is really hard, but changes in policy can drive it. Big business disliking his call I get. The left, well the best that can be said is that they slavishly shoot the messenger. The worst, that the stories about feminism emerging because the women within the radical movement in the sixties in the USA got heartily sick of being useful only for making the coffee seems more and more like it is true.

  • 31
    Rebecca_23
    March 10th, 2010 16:15

    Hey I’m up for it!
    Twas going to have a kid anyway, might as well get paid for it! :)

  • 32
    Rebecca_23
    March 10th, 2010 16:16

    Besides, better that the money goes to me than some 2 bit, cracked up loose single woman….right???

  • 33
    Rajat Sood
    March 10th, 2010 16:45

    If (big) business were compensated for this policy by a cut in the corporate tax rate – or alternatively, if this policy were a quid pro quo for the lower corporate tax rate potentially emanating from the Henry review – the end result could be lower dividend imputation credits and higher revenue from income tax paid by individuals and super funds. The childless would still be subsidising breeders, but it may not be too regressive. What the better-off get in handouts would be lost in lower post-tax investment and super earnings.

  • 34
    conrad
    March 10th, 2010 17:15

    Ros,
    .
    I just don’t buy this argument about having kids being the equivalent of being sick or taking holidays — sick leave, for example, is something that you take because something happened to you that you couldn’t control at all. Kids are something hopefully most people plan these days, and have little to do with sickness. In addition, if we want to start considering all leave equivalent, I don’t see why I can’t use equivalent arguments for things like study leave. For example, I wouldn’t mind taking 6 months off on study leave at full pay — that would be beneficial to me, my employer, and society at large. However, I wouldn’t expect the government to pay for it at a greater level than they do for anyone else studying (e.g., Austudy). So there are clearly certainlt examples of things considered essential for employment (skills) that don’t fit the same pay rate criteria. Similar arguments are used in many European countries for unemployment benefits incidentally, and I don’t agree with them either, since they’re regressive, and there’s very few regressive measures I support. I also think if you are going to spend billions, it’s a huge opportunity cost which could be better spent on things that also help mainly women more (like childcare, as I noted). Being pragmatic, I’d rather spend the money on the things of most use than spend the money based on some social goal.
    .
    “The paternity leave argument is I reckon a red herring.”
    .
    I don’t think so at all. As long as paternity leave doesn’t exist, you are essentially entrenching the type of things you are complaining about, which is why I’d be happy to see both paternity and maternity leave (excluding if it was only for a short duration, when obviously medical things are important).

  • 35
    Ros
    March 11th, 2010 08:24

    Conrad, Abbott’s proposal is that it be available to either the father or the mother.

    You avoid LSL but throw study leave into the mix. Catalyst Australia, who favour at least 14 weeks of full income replacement, (academics and unions) nominated a scheme to the Productivity Commission that included for the childless use of the proposed leave bank for other needs, such as elderly parent care. They wanted the scheme to include payments of some sort to extend the leave available to 26 weeks. Their scheme they said was one that would replace long service leave with a portable leave account. So OK why not study leave. The guys could study, the women can care for children and their parents. So not much would change for men.

    It seemed to me that I was stating the bleeding obvious. As I am getting no support I went looking for others views. Hence the Catalyst. Then there is the National Foundation for Australian Women.

    NFAW submission to the Productivity Commission 2007
    In its formal submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into paid maternity, paternity and parental leave, NFAW recommends:
    •A minimum period of six month paid maternal leave
    •Income replacement, rather than a minimalist welfare payment
    •Four weeks paid paternal leave (at paternal wage level)
    •Financing through a mix of Government, employer and employee contributions, comparable to the financing of retirement incomes.
    An independent costing by the University of Newcastle of such a scheme, based on the model prepared by Julia Perry, shows that:
    •In addition to the current Baby Bonus, costs would be in a range of 0.7% – 0.8% of the current wage bill. These costs could be shared between employers and employees
    •The costing included costs of payroll tax, superannuation, workers’ compensation and training costs
    •The costing did not take into account increased savings to Government, nor the benefits to employers of retaining skilled staff and increasing labour force participation.

    In case there is confusion, “with the principal carer, most probably the mother, entitled to a substantial period of paid leave at full income replacement. We suggest a minimum of six months in the first instance, but 12 months would be preferred.”

    They favour a tripartite system of funding by government, employer and employees.

    All my life I have heard men trotting out common good arguments to negate any moves to improve women’s lot, why am I surprised that they still are. What do women know.

  • 36
    conrad
    March 11th, 2010 17:48

    “You avoid LSL but throw study leave into the mix.”
    .
    I’m not sure how many people get LSL, but it’s essentially none apart from a few university and public service employees, and even fewer that would get it in time to use it for kids (who works 10 years in the same job from 22-32, for example?). In addition, even though I do get it, I wouldn’t cry if I didn’t, which is why I didn’t consider it. It seems like a relic of time people worked and expected to work in the same company all their lives.
    .
    Also, it’s not clear to me how much value posting the opinion of a lobby group is. Everybody would love everything, but in the end (to me) it’s a matter of priorities. Your lobby group, for example, thinks people should get the baby-bonus, 12 months off at full pay, etc. (obviously paid for by someone else — quite possibly those with less money than those getting the benefit — as it always is). I live on planet Earth in Australia, not Mars. Even socialist places I’ve worked where people pay 50%+ tax (France), and have all the associated problems that brings, don’t have that, and though I might benefit from the sort of scheme suggested one day, I don’t want to live in some sort of rich breeder-Nirvana that comes at the expense of everyone else.

  • 37
    Andrew Norton
    March 11th, 2010 18:20

    I will be on LSL as of COB tomorrow! While it’s true that not many young people would get it, many people would get it over their lifetimes. As of 2008, 24% of workers had been with their employer 10 years or more, the statutory threshold for receiving LSL.

  • 38
    Russell
    March 11th, 2010 20:00

    Happy Hols Andrew!
    .
    LSL is fantastic. I first got it when I was about 26 and couldn’t resist resigning and taking the money – I planned to live frugally off the money and give myself a year of full-time piano studies. It lasted 10 years! well, with bits of part-time work and other stuff.
    .
    The second time I got it I resigned and went to another job, so I was paid out. (I always refused to negotiate on trading off LSL when I was a union delegate despite nearly unanimous support for that dumb idea). Pity to lose the holidays but it did knock a couple of years off the mortgage.
    .
    I hope this LSL is life-changing for you. Send us a post from Paris or Rio or wherever you go …….

  • 39
    Andrew Norton
    March 12th, 2010 04:35

    Russell – I think I am rather more work-oriented than you are! I’m just seeing LSL as a chance to pursue a few interests that while mostly somewhat connected to be work will never be ‘urgent’.

  • 40
    Andrew Norton » Blog Archive » Is Tony Abbott moving towards a coherent ‘modern conservatism’?
    March 26th, 2010 09:40

    [...] a paid parental leave scheme. While this didn’t go down very well in his party room, I argued that it fits with a ‘modern conservatism’ that recognises that married women work, and [...]