National

Federal Budget 2015: Tony Abbott says public servants double dipping in PPL 'not right'

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has used public servant parents who claim paid parental leave from their employers as well as through the national scheme to defend his decision to backtrack on paid parental leave.

While many Canberra parents, including public servants have slammed the proposed PPL changes, others see them as fair. ...
While many Canberra parents, including public servants have slammed the proposed PPL changes, others see them as fair. Private sector worker Erin Cornish says she "can can see the government's point of view". Photo: Melissa Adams

Speaking a press conference at a Fyshwick auto electrical business on Wednesday, Mr Abbott lashed out at public servant parents saying they were "double dipping" on the taxpayer and it was "not right".

"Here in the ACT, there are lots of Commonwealth public servants who have quite a generous paid parental leave scheme. 

"Why should they be double-dipping? Once, as a public servant, and another time through the social security system; it doesn't seem right," he said.

He accused public servant parents of "having two goes at the taxpayer" by claiming both schemes.

"Why should Commonwealth public servants - or State public servants for that matter - have two goes at the taxpayer when it comes to paid parental leave," he said.

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison announced the decision on Sunday to stop almost half of new mothers from accessing the full $11,500 available under the existing PPL scheme from July 2016, in favour of spending on a new childcare package.

The government has come under fire from interest groups and unions for the decision, which the government expects to net them $1 billion in savings.

The national scheme, introduced by Labor in 2011, provides 18 weeks of leave at the minimum wage to primary care givers earning $150,000 a year or less. 

Many public servants claim the payments as well as the Australian Public Service's mandated offer of 52 weeks maternity leave with about three months at the employee's full salary.

While many Canberra parents, including public servants have slammed the proposed changes, others see them as fair.

Erin Cornish, from Crace, works for her husband's small business and has two children under three.

She took up the governments paid parental scheme which she described as "a godsend" since her former employer offered only one month at half pay.

"I think 18 weeks is fair, but I can see the government's point of view and if you are in the government sector, if you work it correctly you have a payment for the whole time so I can kind of understand why they are doing that.

"As long as they don't get rid of [the current paid parental leave scheme] I think most people will be happy with that," she said.

Mr Abbott has long attacked public servants parents who access both schemes.

Late last year, Mr Abbott was using the case to justify his signature $5.5 billion paid parental leave scheme, which has now been dumped.