'What do we do for stay-at-home mums?'
Senator John 'Wacka' Williams has long been critical of the PPL scheme, telling Breaking Politics in June it should be made cheaper and fairer.PT6M13S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-39u8g 620 349 June 10, 2014
Treasurer Joe Hockey has signalled the federal government is unwilling to compromise on its paid parental leave policy, urging his colleagues questioning the scheme "not to fall for the class war rhetoric of the Labor Party".
And in comments aimed at country seats where Nationals MPs have criticised the scheme, Mr Hockey declared that regional Australians were "the biggest winners" from Prime Minister Tony Abbott's signature paid parental leave plan.
Mr Hockey mounted his defence as Fairfax MP Clive Palmer said his party could be prepared to support a compromise deal put forward by Nationals Senator John Williams.
Treasurer Joe Hockey: “I just say to the critics, you want us to keep our election promises, now you're doing everything you can to stop us keeping our election promises." Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Under Senator Williams' proposal, the current scheme introduced by the former Labor government would be extended from 18 weeks at the minimum wage to 26 weeks and would include superannuation.
Mr Palmer said his party could consider supporting Senator Williams' proposal if it was also extended to mothers not in the workforce.
Senator Williams said on Tuesday that was something he could support.
"It's something that needs to be considered because the stay at home mum – this has been raised by colleagues of mine in the National Party – what do we do for the stay at home mum?" he said.
Many government MPs have expressed reservations about Mr Abbott's $5.5 billion proposal, which is viewed as overly generous when the government is trying to rein in spending and pay down debt.
Senator Williams said his biggest concern besides the cost of the scheme was that he hadn't "had one constituent say to me that we should be supporting it".
"When I go round to National Party meetings and talk to people in the regional towns and communities they see it as too expensive," he said.
But Mr Hockey said on Tuesday the government intended to keep its election promise on paid parental leave.
"We have laid down our plans for the paid parental leave scheme," he said.
"We have taken it to two elections.
"I just say to the critics, you want us to keep our election promises, now you're doing everything you can to stop us keeping our election promises.
"So please make up your minds."
Mr Hockey said the division over the scheme was playing into Labor Party's hands.
''I would urge my colleagues not to fall for the class war rhetoric of the Labor Party and...focus on who will benefit and how they will benefit," he said.
"If they do that, they will understand that the biggest winners are people in regional Australia, particularly farmers and lower income people and also small business."
Labor leader Bill Shorten gave no sign of changing Labor's position on the paid parental leave scheme, which he described as a "massive ego trip".
"Labor doesn't support providing multimillionaires with tens ofthousands of dollars of taxpayers' money when families are battling to make ends meet," he said.