What Abbott’s #PPL is really about: @stephaniedale22 comment

By Stephanie Dale @stephaniedale22

21 August 2013

The Coalition’s controversial Paid Parental Leave policy – what’s it really about?

Actually, first of all I’m confused about why it’s called ‘parental’ leave, when according to the Liberal Party’s website it applies only to mothers?

Oh yes, a second aside, I’ve called it the ‘Coalition’s’ policy, even though technically it’s a Liberal Party policy, because of all that blather that came from them about the ‘illegitimacy’ of the 43rd parliament on the basis of its negotiated power sharing status between legitimately elected parties and independent representatives – the Liberal/National party coalition is, as far as I can ascertain, the longest standing, most powerful negotiated power sharing alliance in Australian politics.

And this paid parental leave scheme is going to be an inter and intra headache for this alliance – unless it turns out to be the undoing of Tony Abbott’s prime ministerial ambitions all together, in which case it will be a headache only for Tony Abbott.

Technically, these are asides from my main point – in reality, they are key to the story.

And the story is about getting real, about being brave enough and willing enough to peer through the smoke and mirrors of the Australian political landscape and have a good long look at what’s reeeeeeally going on – and our collective part in it.

The Coalition’s Paid Parental Leave policy is about to pay selected women $75,000 to have a baby. Pause and reflect on that thought. Yes it will pay other women as well, those who earn less will be paid less.

That doesn’t change the reality that some women will be paid $75,000 to have a baby – by the same people who are about to universally remove the school kids’ bonus.

Why? So she doesn’t lose her place in a highly competitive job market, thus feeding the myth that women can ‘have it all’.

Has anyone else noticed that every single policy and/or issue we are discussing and/or fighting over in this election is measured against the values of white male privilege?

And if you are a white male of privilege reading this, if I was a betting woman I’d lay my fortune on the fact you rolled your eyes just then.

This is not a new conversation, in fact it’s an exceedingly tiresome one.

For the reality is that everyone in this society who is not white, male and materially very comfortable (yes, yes, you work hard for it) is an outsider. The reality is we are knocking on the doors of the castle asking for admittance to an inner sanctum that we are never, ever going to access by right. I’m sorry, one by one doesn’t count. And the reality is we are bleating for ‘more’ when more is never enough.

All these years after the revolution – yes, it was a revolution, for in my lifetime it was legal for a bank manager not to lend a woman money without her husband’s permission, it was legal to exclude a woman from university, it was legal to rape your wife and no-one ever, ever spoke about the sexual use (these days we call it abuse) of children – all these years after the revolution so that we the outsiders might be admitted to the castle, we are still on the outside hammering on the door.

After all these years, the best we can do is make rules to ensure the elite play nice – those would be our world-leading equal opportunity laws and affirmative action policies that attempt to ensure quotas of women in the castle and occasionally apply to people of indigenous or migrant heritage.

Yet still we are on the outside.

I was listening to one of those Sydney shock jocks the other day. Actually, I wasn’t listening, I just happened to walk by a radio tuned to the diatribe.

It stopped me in my tracks – as I tried to imagine anyone, any single human being in this country, who was not white, male and privileged blasting the airwaves with such vitriol.

Pause and reflect, please. Imagine a trade unionist speaking like that to an audience that can be measured in six or seven digits. Imagine a Muslim speaking like that to an audience that can be measured in six or seven digits.

Imagine a woman speaking like that to an audience that can be measured in six or seven digits, speaking about men the way those men spoke about our former prime minister – and being paid several million dollars a year for the privilege.

Imagine anyone at all who is not of the white, male privileged class having free-range, right-of-expression access to those audiences in return for exceedingly immoderate remuneration.

Now, back to this idea of paying women $75,000 to have a baby.

The idea keeps playing in my head – $75,000 to have a baby. I reflect on the financial realities of the time I raised my own children. We were a single income household and that income was ‘the pension’, the basic support the Australian nation offered women raising children alone.

Healthy and happy - the five cents between paydays family.

Healthy and happy – the 1980s five cents between paydays family.

Every fortnight, every single fortnight between paydays, we had five cents to our name. That’s right, five cents. It’s an horrific thought to early 21st century families, right?

Let’s put that in perspective. The pension paid us enough to pay rent on a cheap house, eat well, run a cheap car and participate selectively in community events. Sometimes we even bought new clothes.

And between paydays we had five cents to our name.

Here’s the clincher – we had no debt.

Imagine that for a moment. No debt. We didn’t spend our days pining for what we didn’t have and we had no debt. There was no such thing as a credit card. And we owed no person or institution any money.

I would take that five cents between paydays any day before the burden of household debt we’ve created to purchase modern lifestyles we cannot afford.

And those lifestyles, the ones that no matter how much we earn in reality we can’t afford, perhaps, are one very big reason underpinning the argument about why we are even considering paying $75,000 to a woman who wants to have a baby.

That and the fear that if we don’t, she’ll lose her seat in the inner sanctum of the castle.

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  1. Mr Wobbly Man says

    It’s Abbott’s Achilles’s heal……other than this disaster waiting to happen what else does he have?

  2. I hope Kevin tells all of Australia in the debate tonight of what Liberal premier Colin Barnett has done in WA, he has broken all of his election promises, has a debt or $28.Billion dollars with nothing to show where the money has gone after Labor leaving just $3.4 Billion after building so much infrastructure. And yesterday he sacks 1500 education staff and is closing down schools when WA’s population is growing by 1500 people a week. Labor has this country ticking along nicely, let’s keep it that way.

  3. Aaron press says

    Is it true that policy only pays women who are in full time employment not casual or part time?

  4. Tj it is about 300 Teacher Aides and a further 200 admin staff not 1500 but quite serious all the same. My wife works in a Perth area hospital and was told yesterday that her contract won’t be renewed and that she along with most of her workmates will be back on the casual roster. No paid maternity leave for them. Yes Aaron you are correct
    It appears to be the latest trend for newly elected or re-elected liberal governments of late to claim a change of circumstance and not deliver on election commitments or surprise, surprise roll out cuts in service and then get outside contractors/large corporate service providers as is the case with Perth’s new Fiona Stanley Hospital in to provide the very same services at a higher price All the while continuing with projects that will have no real public value as in Perth for example a new stadium $1,000,000,000 that will in all likelihood be leased out to a large corporate entity at a knockdown price.
    I have been using every chance I get to advise my workmates

  5. what a rant.

    You might want to actually, you know, read the policy

    “However, if a father is nominated as the primary carer rather than the mother, he will be able to access paid parental leave with payments to reflect the lower of his actual wage or the mother’s actual wage, or national minimum wage (whichever is greater)”

    I’m still not entirely sure how a scheme targeted at helping women maintain their income and super enforces the concept of white male supremacy.. but then I’m part of the white male hegemony.

  6. Aaron — I’ll answer your question too, because it seems no-one here can actually be bothered to read the policy.

    “Carers will not have to be working full-time to access the Coalition’s paid parental leave scheme .. to meet the work test, a person must have:
    – worked for at least 10 of the 13 months prior to the birth or adoption..
    – worked for at least 330 hours in that 10month period (just over 1 day per week) …

  7. Sandra Hey says

    Another Liberal party election bribe, just like the Costello Howard baby bonus, one for mum, one for dad and one for the country, That policy contributed in part to the structural problems we are currently experiencing with the federal budget bottom line. We are well use to the “Puppy Factories” we now have an explosion of “Baby Factories” it has become a form of employment, easier than going out and getting a real job and contributing in a meaningful way to society. All funded by the taxpayer and that is only the start of the journey, just like the animal welfare centres around Australia that have experienced an increase of dumped puppies, we have a huge increase in dumped, abused human beings whose suffering will be life enduring,. Abbott said he will do anything go get the Prime Minister ship of Australia, except sell his arse, well in my view he is getting pretty close to not only selling it, but his soul. As a Jesuit who thinks it is more important to stand up in Court and defended the Character of a convicted Paedophile Priest in the hope his sentence would be reduced is another disgusting trait of Abbott and another bad policy from an equally disgusting Liberal Party. The current paid maternity leave is more than fair and should remain public policy.