Prime Minister Tony Abbott during Question Time on Monday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja has joined his Prime Minister in using federal bureaucrats as a rhetorical battering ram for Tony Abbott's pet policy.
Mr Abbott is using a long-standing maternity leave perk in the public service to argue for his controversial paid parental leave scheme.
THe ACT Liberal senator called on Canberra's three federal Labor politicians - Senator Kate Lundy and MPs Gai Brodtmann and Andrew Leigh - to confirm whether their opposition to the government’s paid parental leave scheme extended to the current benefits awarded to public servants.
Liberal Senator Zed Seselja. Photo: Rohan Thomson
“Fifty per cent of the workforce in Canberra are employed in the private sector," Senator Seselja said.
"Labor representatives are either saying that this 50 per cent are less valuable than public servants, or they are calling for public servants’ awards to be cut."
In Question Time on Monday, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten asked the Prime Minister why Australians should support his "unaffordable" parental leave scheme if his own colleagues - citing Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald's criticism on the same day - did not.
Mr Abbott said Mr Shorten wanted public servants to have a better deal than everybody else.
At the moment federal public servants receive at least 14 weeks of leave at full pay with no upper pay limit.
"The principle that the leader of the opposition is apparently supporting is that public servants should get a better deal than the people of Australia," Mr Abbott said.
His scheme offers full pay for 26 weeks up to a maximum payment of $50,000.
"The principle the leader of the opposition is apparently supporting is that his staff should get a paid parental leave scheme that pays them at their real wage but the people of Australia should not," Mr Abbott said.
"That is the real unfairness. What I am saying, what this government is saying, is that everyone should get access to paid parental leave at their wage, because this should be a workplace entitlement.
"If you get paid at your real wage when you go on holiday, if you get paid at your real wage when you get sick pay, if you get paid at your real wage when you take long-service leave, then surely you should get paid at your real wage on paid parental leave. The best way to ensure that this is properly funded is to make sure that the biggest companies in Australia pay it."