Page 1000 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 25 February 2009

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“(1) notes that the Productivity Commission has proposed the introduction of a taxpayer-funded scheme for paid parental leave;”; and

(2) in paragraph (2)(b), omit “maternity”, substitute “parental”.

I have already spoken to these amendments. The first one is designed to place the Productivity Commission front and centre in the debate about maternity leave, and the second one is to refer more correctly to the Productivity Commission report in its full context, which is in relation to parental leave.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (3.33): Again, Mr Speaker, I wish to speak to Mrs Dunne’s amendment rather than closing the debate. I understand that the opposition is moving this amendment to clarify what the Productivity Commission is proposing in its draft inquiry report, Paid parental leave: supports for parents with newborn children, released on 29 September 2008. This report uses the term “parental leave” in reference to the commission’s original issues paper titled Paid maternity, paternity and parental leave, dated April 2008. The issues paper states:

… the Commission will use the term ‘paid parental leave’ to cover paid maternity and paternity leave …

Therefore, in light of this, I refer to the text of my motion, which called upon the ACT government to show leadership by calling on the commonwealth to accept the recommendations of the Productivity Commission report regarding maternity leave.

The ACT Greens policy supports initiatives that assist parents to balance work and family commitments, including paid parental leave, and I have not made a judgement on the importance of one over the other. However, on the eve of this year’s International Women’s Day, the text of my motion was with particular reference to maternity leave. I make this clarification because for women this has been, as federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said, 30 years of advocacy, and it’s absolutely time to induce. However, I cannot support the amendments put forward by Mrs Dunne as they require the removal of the acknowledgement of the benefits of paid maternity leave.

MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella) (3.34): In my speech I referred to my amendment, but I also referred to Mrs Dunne’s amendments and said we would not oppose them. I have had discussions in the meantime which have only recently concluded within the past minute or two. I have not had a chance to have a chat with Mrs Dunne. It is not my form to do this, and I apologise for not being able to get to Mrs Dunne to explain the position.

I am convinced that, whilst Ms Hunter’s motion is about maternity leave, it actually does two things. It talks about the Productivity Commission’s parental leave, it talks about maternity leave, and she wants us to give consideration to the Productivity Commission’s report around non-biological parenting and all of those implications. I think that is where Mrs Dunne was going, and I concur a bit with her. But what Ms Hunter is trying to do, as I read it in the context of this particular motion, is to

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