Rural MP disputes country-city gap in paid leave scheme
Some women will be paid more than others under the government's parental leave policy but that's the way the free market works, says Liberal MP Angus Taylor.PT0M0S 620 349
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Prime Minister Tony Abbott has nearly three times more constituents who receive paid parental leave than his deputy, the Nationals leader Warren Truss.
An analysis of government statistics has highlighted a yawning gap between the potential payout from Mr Abbott's paid parental leave scheme in Liberal-held seats, such as his electorate of Warringah, and rural and regional seats with a much higher proportion of stay-at-home mothers.
"Labor's scheme already discriminates and this scheme will discriminate even more": Queensland National George Christensen. Photo: Andrew Meares
As Nationals MPs continued to agitate against the $5.5 billion PPL on Tuesday, Department of Social Services figures revealed that 14 of 15 Nationals-held seats have lower than the average number of women who currently qualify for the scheme.
The average number in all electorates is 475 compared to 360 in the Nationals' electorates.
In Warringah, there are 700 women who are eligible to receive up to $50,000 over six months under the scheme. But in Mr Truss' Queensland's seat of Wide Bay there are just 270.
"Nationals MPs should do their day job and actually stand up for communities in regional Australia": Labor leader Bill Shorten. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Treasurer Joe Hockey has 590 mothers and Malcolm Turnbull's eastern Sydney electorate of Wentworth has 620. In Melbourne, Kelly O'Dwyer's Liberal seat of Higgins has 440 mothers who qualify.
But in Nationals-held Lyne in NSW there are just 270, while Darren Chester's Gippsland electorate in regional Victoria has 330.
Queensland National George Christensen said he was concerned that rural and regional areas missed out, based on the figures.
''Labor's scheme already discriminates and this scheme will discriminate even more,'' he said.
Nationals senator John Williams said his colleagues were concerned the Abbott scheme will ''put a price on a baby''.
''We know people in regional areas are on lower incomes than what people are paid in the city,'' Senator Williams said.
He has proposed a trimmed-down alternative scheme that would extend the current 18 weeks at minimum wage, introduced by Labor, to 26 weeks with superannuation contributions included.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said regional areas would actually subsidise Mr Abbott's scheme through higher petrol taxes, the GP co-payment and cuts to welfare.
''Nationals MPs should do their day job and actually stand up for communities in regional Australia,'' he said.