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Greens introduce Bill for 26 weeks’ paid parental leave

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young introduced her Private Member’s Bill to provide for 26 weeks’ paid parental leave in the Senate this afternoon, with the aim of securing government-funded leave for Australian parents before 2011.

The Greens announced last month that Senator Hanson-Young would introduce the Bill, in light of widespread community support for such a scheme, and a lack of Government commitment to paid parental leave at the time.

“I have introduced my Bill today with the hope that Australian mums and dads will be able to take government-funded paid parental leave before the next federal election,” said Senator Hanson-Young.

“While the Government has made some movement on this issue in the past four days, the only piece of legislation currently before the Parliament to provide for this important workplace entitlement is the Greens’ paid parental leave Bill.

“Our Bill is a good one, it’s affordable, and it’s there on the table, ready to be debated.”

The Greens’ Bill has some key differences from the Federal Government’s recently announced proposal, including:
• Amendment of the Fair Work Act, recognising paid parental leave as a workplace entitlement to be legislated for as such, and administered by the Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations
• A more generous leave period of 26 weeks (as called for by numerous health organisations, women’s organisations, and unions)
• Not means-testing applicants
• Provision of superannuation payments for workers taking parental leave
• Pro-rata adjustment of parental leave payments for casual and part-time workers
• Ability for mothers and fathers to share the leave between them.

“At a cost to Government of $740 million annually, the Greens’ paid parental leave scheme is affordable,” said Senator Hanson-Young.

“There is much evidence showing what an effective economic stimulus a paid parental leave scheme would be for Australia, and we must not forget the priceless social dividend paid parental leave creates in the bonding and nurturing parents and infants can enjoy.

“Now, more than ever, is the time to be supporting young families as they embark on a new, challenging phase of life.

“I commend the Greens’ Bill for government-funded paid parental leave to the Senate.”

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