POLL: Orange mums says parental leave scheme lacks flexibility

TONY Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme is not inclusive, too generous and could be better spent on childcare rebates according to Orange parents. 

The Prime Minister’s scheme allows mothers to take six months’ maternity leave at full pay, up to $75,000 for those who earn less than $150,000. 

But parents Matthew and Suzannah Fuller, who have twins under two, a six-year-old and a four-year-old, think the $1.4 billion promised for the scheme could be better spent on childcare rebates. 

Mrs Fuller said more flexibility for working parents would be of greater assistance.

“For example, I only work casually but I have to enrol my children in childcare and I have to pay for it continually whether I am working or not in order to keep the spot,” she said. 

“Stay-at-home mums won’t benefit from a paid parental scheme.”

The parental leave scheme would be available to any parent who earned less than $150,000 annually but Mr Fuller said the cap was too high. 

“We certainly aren’t complaining [about the current system] at the moment, [but] I think there could be changes,” he said. “Initially we weren’t getting the childcare rebate because my wife wasn’t working 

“I don’t want to say it’s discriminatory but people who stay at home aren’t eligible.”

Families with two kids in full-time care are spending between 14 per cent and 17 per cent of their take-home pay on childcare, even after pocketing subsidies.

Parents told the Central Western Daily funding for cheaper childcare and rebates for families to hire nannies would be a better idea. 

The government is investigating those ideas with a focus on tax writeoffs for childcare costs, taxpayer subsidies for nannies and even a Scandinavian “cash-for-care” plan that would pay parents to stay home to look after their own children.

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Angela Coutts, a mother of 21-month-old twin girls and a four-year-old boy, said many of her friends had to leave work once they had multiple children.

“If you’re only getting back $100 a week at the end of it you have to question whether it’s worth it,” she said. 

“I think there should be more flexibility when it comes to returning to work and a reduction in childcare costs.”

Mrs Coutts said Mr Abbott’s plan was too ad hoc and did not support women who wanted to return to work part-time, casually or who previously had children and therefore were only working occasionally when they had their second or third child. 

nicole.kuter@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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