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Paid parental leave a Budget must this May

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has called on the Rudd Government to clarify its commitment to a promised government-funded paid parental leave scheme in Australia, as economic stimulus payments continue to roll out.

Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner yesterday hinted that a paid parental leave scheme would be difficult to deliver as part of next month’s Federal Budget.

“The message the Greens are hearing from the community is: working parents want a paid parental leave scheme as a matter of urgency,” said Senator Hanson-Young.

“While families may appreciate the latest round of stimulus payments going into their bank accounts from today, this is just a stop-gap measure to help families.

“Paid parental leave should be recognised as a workplace entitlement to properly support parents, and help them maintain workplace attachment in these turbulent economic times.”

Senator Hanson-Young said the Federal Government must clarify its commitment to a government-funded paid parental leave scheme.

“Kevin Rudd’s Labor went to the 2007 election on a promise of delivering paid parental leave,” she said.

“In 2008, the Prime Minister said it was time to ‘bite the bullet’ on a paid parental leave scheme.

“The Greens agree – yet Mr Rudd now seems to have changed his mind.

“Now, if the Government is prepared to entertain the idea of a third round of stimulus payments, it must be prepared to deliver paid parental leave in the 2009/2010 Budget.

“At an annual cost of less than half a billion dollars to secure the Productivity Commission’s 18-week parental leave recommendation, we know such a scheme is affordable.

“We just need to see the political will from the Rudd Government to put it into action this year.

“The Greens are reiterating our call for the Government to release the Productivity Commission’s final report – which it’s been sitting on since February – and act upon its recommendations within the May Budget."

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