House debates

Monday, 31 May 2010

Paid Parental Leave Bill 2010; Paid Parental Leave (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2010

Second Reading

7:06 pm

Photo of Damian HaleDamian Hale (Solomon, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I quote from the Leader of the Opposition’s contribution to this debate:

Of course, all policies have to be paid for. Only members opposite think that there is some endless source of finance, some magic pudding from which to pay for all the things that they desire to create a better society. I make no bones about the fact that this policy will be paid for by a levy of up to 1.7 per cent on taxable company incomes over $5 million a year. I wish it were otherwise. Were circumstances different, it could have been different. If we had a $20 billion surplus, we could have done it differently. But given the situation that this government places us in, given the fact that this government in just 2½ years has turned a $20 billion surplus into a $57 billion deficit, given that this government has put us in the position where we are borrowing $700 million a week, this is the least bad way to bring about an effective paid parental leave scheme any time soon. And it must be done soon. The women of Australia and the families of Australia have waited too long and they ought not be denied this visionary piece of social policy, this important economic reform, any longer.

Who believes that? If you believe that he is honestly going to bring that in, you believe in the Easter bunny, you probably leave a light on at night for Harold Holt and you probably think Elvis is in Tennant Creek driving a cement truck, because there is no way in the world that this Leader of the Opposition will implement his paid parental leave scheme.

They had a $20 billion surplus and they still did not do it. They are still in denial over the global financial crisis. They are still in denial that the Treasurer, the Prime Minister, the Treasury and the Reserve Bank have been able to guide Australia through the global financial crisis, leaving us better off than any other country. They are still in denial that our debt was looking at something in the high twenties and we have been able to keep it at around six per cent. They are still in denial. And it just shows how out of touch this Leader of the Opposition is with what real people out there in the community are thinking. He was out of touch when he was a cabinet minister when it came to paid parental leave. He cannot be trusted on this issue.

Many of my colleagues tonight have touched on where the bill is at. Many of my colleagues have spoken about different parts of the bill—the money, the eligibility aspects and all those types of issues. But, for me, this is more about the credibility of the opposition in regard to a paid parental leave scheme. It is only Labor that will deliver it. There is no doubt about that. The Leader of the Opposition says he wants to slug business with a 1.7 per cent tax. We are looking to bring corporate taxes down, through the mining tax, by two per cent. It is roughly a four per cent tax turnaround for small- to medium-sized businesses.

I put this to the Leader of the Opposition: who carried Australia through the global financial crisis? It was not the big miners; it was small- to medium-sized businesses in this country, aided by targeted stimulus spending. Those businesses showed discipline and courage by sticking with their workforces. The reward for them from this side of the House is to look at a two per cent decrease in the corporate tax rate. That is what we on this side of the House are doing. We are saying to small- and medium-sized businesses in this country: ‘We felt your pain. We gave you money through stimulus. We acknowledge the fact that you continued to put apprentices on, you did not lay people off and you showed courage and discipline in very tough times.’ What does the coalition do? What does the Leader of the Opposition do? He wants to kick small- and medium-sized businesses when they are at their most vulnerable, coming on the back end of a global financial crisis. He wants to whack a tax on them to pay for his paid parental leave scheme. It is unbelievable. What have businesses done to deserve that? I thought that the coalition were the party for small- to medium-sized businesses.

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