Page 1816 - Week 06 - Thursday, 14 May 2015

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It is, quite frankly, offensive the way the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, the finance minister, the social services minister and others set out to characterise working mums as double-dippers, welfare cheats and rorters. And it is doubly offensive for the public servants of Canberra, who, as usual, were the first ones lined up for cheap shots about being on easy street.

What I have been pleased to see is that the Canberra Liberals spokeswoman, Mrs Jones, has come out and called it for what it is—appalling. Mrs Jones says:

Why do we leave women with children feeling like they are left to fight over the left overs?

Why do we do that?

You can ask the same question when it comes to funding for domestic violence. I was not alone in hoping that this budget would bring real commitment to addressing domestic violence. For all the current awareness brought about by campaigners like the Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, domestic violence continues to be the leading cause of death, injury and homelessness for women under 45.

In the lead-up to this budget the commonwealth showed genuine interest in tackling domestic violence in Australia and they have rightly elevated it to COAG. But, again, the women of Canberra and Australia have been let down by the commonwealth, as the budget gives no additional resources to combat domestic and family violence.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Fitzharris.

MS FITZHARRIS: Minister, are you aware of any other people raising concerns in relation to the effect of federal budget measures on women claiming paid parental leave?

MS BERRY: Yes, I am. I want to again acknowledge Mrs Jones’s comments—that the policy is “playing one group of mums against another”. And I agree with her that, when it comes to this commonwealth government, “women’s empowerment has a long way to run”.

Former minister Arthur Sinodinos has also come out and acknowledged the obvious—that the justification for this policy is unacceptable. He said that it is “not a good look to have a go at young mothers”. No, it is not; and it is not good policy either. As former Chief Minister Kate Carnell said:

It’s hard to see why employers would continue to pay parental leave if it meant the government stopped paying and they were simply footing the bill …

It is quite remarkable; I would have thought employers would want to be an employer of choice and attract women to the workforce by providing better and substantial parental leave. The Australia Institute said:

If an employer was offering the same or less than the government, they’ll just withdraw their scheme and save the money because the government will pay.

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