With the parental leave policy slowed in implementation due to the non-recession, Tony Abbott decides to lob a thought bomb into that sphere. He wants to potentially move to full salary parental leave. In my opinion, unless the policy really gives both parents equal rights there are some dangers in this, but in reality his speech identifies several things that are true. First, the Federal government’s proposed approach (while a step forward) is piecemeal relative to what we see elsewhere. Second, his plan which is to levy big business rather than require businesses to foot the parental leave bill themselves is a better way to do this. Third, he seemed careful to avoid favouring one parent or another although the speech did make International Women’s Day so there is some ambiguity there.
That said, this is far from an actual policy commitment but it does move Abbott to the left of the government and not necessarily in a way that brings with it stupid economics (unlike other areas we could mention). Nonetheless, let me remind all that, if we are happy to use public funds, then parental leave tax credits may be a funding route with far better incentives and something that will improve outcomes for women in the labour market.