Tony Abbott was right. There. I've said it.
Now, let's go back a few steps.
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Paid parental leave decision 'shocking'
As reported in January 2016, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's policies leave '79,000 new parents... missing out on some of their paid parental leave,' says Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Vision ABC News 24.
Tony Abbott was wrong on a lot of things. His inhumane and expensive "stop the boats" policy (which Labor is also complicit in). His illogical promise that he could maintain government spending, cut taxes and also fix the budget. His rejection of a market-based solution to tackling dangerous climate change.
But he had a fantastic policy for working women.
I've stuck the boot into feminists a few times for their blinkered rejection of Abbott's more generous paid parental leave scheme, which would have paid a primary carer – let's face it, the majority of whom are women – for 26 weeks at their full salary. The policy was initially not means-tested, but later capped at an annual salary of $150,000, then $100,000.
I've also stuck it to the Labor Party – who rightly deserve credit for introducing Australia's first national paid parental leave scheme – for pursuing politics over policy in attacking the scheme as "unfair".
You want to know what's unfair? Being born with a uterus.
Economists don't like policies that subsidise individuals to make choices they would make anyway (like paying for private health insurance).
So, why pay women who choose to have babies?
First, because it's only an illusion of choice.
If I could have delegated to my husband the job of growing a baby in his belly for nine months, risking permanent damage to his genitals through childbirth and having sole responsibility for breast feeding, believe me, I would. That's the choice I would make.
In reality, couples choose to have babies. But it is by and large the female partner who bears the physical and financial burden of taking time out to care for the resulting offspring.
Secondly, we should pay women to have babies because, as it turns out, if you don't, we have fewer of them.
Fabulous, you may think. No more rug rats tearing up my favourite cafe and disturbing the peace while I try to read my weekend Herald.
But ageing populations have made increasing fertility an urgent goal of public policy.
One is not supposed to mention the indelicate matter of financial incentives when it comes to having children. Those little blighters are priceless, of course.
But actually, they're not. They're pretty expensive. Particularly when you factor in the opportunity cost of the carer's time – the income they could otherwise earn by doing paid work.
It turns out that many women respond to the current way of doing things by simply having fewer babies.
How do we know?
Because of a new study by two female economists at the University of Sydney, Hayley Fisher and Micaela Bassford, which provides the first Australian evidence of the impact on women's fertility intentions of Labor's paid parental leave scheme introduced in 2008.
The economists were able to use data from the respected HILDA survey, which asks women about how many children they intend to have.
Lots of factors influence that decision, of course, but the authors were able to segment women into those working in the public sector – who mostly already had access to paid parental leave – and those in the private sector – who, by and large, did not.
Turns out women in the private sector did report a dramatic rise in their fertility intentions after the introduction of paid leave.
Overall, one in four Australian women said they would now like to have one additional child, on average.
Interestingly, there was no impact on childless women. The decision to have a first child was not influenced by the availability of leave. But there was a significant impact on so-called "higher-order fertility" – the decision to have two children, not one, or three not two.
And even more interestingly, the effect was almost entirely driven by more highly educated mothers.
Tony Abbott would call them "women of calibre", although I don't like the phrase. I don't like the implied social engineering that only women of calibre should breed, not women of lesser calibre. Or, that women of calibre should breed, even if they don't want to. Women should do what is best for them.
But I do care about a system of incentives that penalises women financially for childbirth and that seems to discourage some women from having babies they would otherwise like to have.
It's important to note that this study only looked at the impact of moving women from a position of no leave to Australia's minimal 18 week scheme – which, by the way, is positively miserly by international standards.
Across the wealthy countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the average paid leave available to mothers is more than one year, up from 39 weeks in 1990 and 17 weeks in 1970.
Australia is almost half a century behind when it comes to paid parental leave.
It's time we caught up.
The study's results can't tell us for sure if there would be a fertility boost from moving to a more generous scheme, as Abbott proposed. Although a survey in Austria, which has varied the generosity of its scheme up to two years, and then back to one year, found it did influence fertility intentions.
If you were worried about taxpayers footing the bill to pay parents at different rates to raise their children, you could get business to fund the scheme.
You could introduce a 1.5 per cent levy on big business to pool funds to help pay for the leave, delivering small businesses the ability for the first time to fund parental leave and removing forever the incentive for any individual firm to discriminate against hiring or promoting a woman for fear they'd have to pay her not to work.
Which, of course, was exactly Abbott's proposal, which was ultimately defeated by big business and conservatives in his own party, aided and abetted by feminists who couldn't see beyond their personal hatred of the scheme's father.
They were wrong.
Abbott was right.