Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told this morning’s Women’s Breakfast Forum in Canberra that a government-funded paid parental leave scheme must be included in the 2009-2010 Federal Budget.
Senior Government ministers are saying that paid parental leave will be left out of the Budget due to Australia’s economic situation, it has been reported.
“What working mums really want for Mother’s Day is a government-funded paid parental leave scheme,” said Senator Hanson-Young.
“Now more than ever is the time to be supporting working families, as we experience more challenging economic times.”
Senator Hanson-Young said a government-funded paid parental leave scheme would help stimulate the economy.
“Parental leave would mean maintaining parents’ connection to the workforce while providing them with money to spend on childrearing necessities,” she said.
“It means we are protecting families from financial hardship at such an important time, and supporting them in their contribution to the community by raising a child.
“The birth or adoption of a child should be a healthy and happy time to give children the best start in life, and paid parental leave would help facilitate this for many families.”
The Greens are calling for a 26-week government-funded paid parental leave scheme, which can be taken by mothers or fathers.
“The necessity of introducing a government-funded paid parental leave is an understanding that is held not just by the Greens, but widely in the community, and by health organisations, unions, women’s organisations, economists and media commentators,” she said.
“Australia is shamefully out of step with the rest of the world, being one of just two OECD countries without any form of government-funded paid parental leave.
“It’s time for the Government to play catch-up and make sure paid parental leave is in the upcoming Budget.”
In addition to paid parental leave, the Greens will push for a shake-up of the childcare sector, saying that affordable, accessible and quality childcare must be a priority for the Federal Government.