POLITICS

Xenophon Won't Allow Parental Leave Changes To Kick In On January 1

The change may end up getting a nine-month gestation period.

26/10/2016 3:16 PM AEDT | Updated 26/10/2016 3:55 PM AEDT
NEW! HIGHLIGHT AND SHARE
Highlight text to share via Facebook and Twitter
Andrew Meares, Fairfax
Senator Nick Xenophon says a January 1 start date would be "manifestly unfair for any woman who is pregnant".

CANBERRA -- Pregnant mums in their last trimester appear to be able to take one load off. Crucial crossbench Senator Nick Xenophon will block any nine week away, January 1 start date for proposed cuts to the Turnbull Government's paid parental leave scheme.

And the leader of the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) has indicated he'll be demanding at least nine months' notice for the government's renewed push to stop new mums and dads "double-dipping"; that is, receiving government parental leave as well as paid leave from employers.

The Senator said he's heard from "many" women over the past few days, including distressed pregnant women who are due to give birth in 2017.

"I want to make it clear to any woman who is out there concerned about the impact of this scheme applying from January 1st, that is something that I won't be supporting and my colleagues won't be supporting," Xenophon told reporters in Canberra.

"Having any scheme as such proposed by the government to start on January 1st would be manifestly unfair for any woman who is pregnant."

Earlier, The Huffington Post Australia revealed some mums are so anxious about the closeness of the possible start to the changes they were considering ways to bring labour forward.

30-weeks pregnant Katie Barry is due on January 1 and told HuffPost Australia she has been "stressing so much" over the past few days she has made herself "physically sick" over the proposed limitation to the scheme.

She had been considering low impact methods to fast track labour, as long as they would not harm the baby.

"I would not doing anything to purposely bring on labour," Barry told HuffPost Australia. "I am going to do the safe things such as going for a walk, eating spicy food that sort of stuff, praying to everybody that I could pray to that the baby does come earlier."

There has also be predictions that caesarean sections would be rescheduled and concern that more dangerous methods of bring on labour may be attempted.

"These are the real life consequences and it shows how important this leave is, how vital it is to these families," said Jo Briskey from parent advocacy group, The Parenthood.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter says he wants to "get women back to work" and find savings in the system, but Labor opposes the plan and NXT is still considering it with a "cautious approach."

The Government must now consider NXT's concerns about retrospectivity.

"That seems to me to be an issue of common sense," Xenophon said. "It would be in effect retrospective if these changes came in unless there was at least nine months' notice."

Pressed to confirm if NXT would support the legislation if it meant the changes would start nine months later, Xenophon replied, "that is the normal gestation period. That seems to be a reasonable approach."

"I know another start date is October 1st."

The government's current scheme provides 18 weeks at minimum wage for carers earning $150,000 or less. But that would go under the slightly modified plans released last Thursday, if the parent at home gets paid leave from their employer.

The legislation can be found here.

Minister Porter does not personally use the term "double-dipping," but has described the changes as a "re-balancing" of the paid parental leave scheme so more people, including those on low-incomes, will be brought into the system.

The Coalition expects to raise $1 billion through limiting access to the scheme and the savings are expected to show up in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) later this year, even if the legislation gets stuck in the Senate.

Labor's families and social services spokeswoman Jenny Macklin claims she and her office have spoken to many concerned mothers about the Turnbull government's planned cuts to paid parental leave.

"I have no doubt that people are very frightened," Macklin told HuffPost Australia. "People have already organised their leave. People have worked out their finances with their partners, their employers and now all of their arrangements have been thrown up in the air.

"The government plainly just completely out of touch with the enormous disruption that they are causing."

The Social Services Minister has been sought for comment by HuffPost Australia, but he has not been available.

More On This Topic

Advertisement
Advertisement