In early February Tony Abbott promised voters that if he wins the election, he’ll trump Labor’s 18-week tax-payer-funded paid parental leave with a plan that offers 24 weeks of leave for primary caregivers.
Spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Australian Women, Marie Coleman praised the move, believing Australia lags behind the international community’s standard for paid leave and that six months is the minimum required after the birth of a new baby.
"Indeed the scientific data on child development and the need for parental bonding would suggest that 12 months would be ideal," Coleman said.
Prominent child psychologists agree. According to leading child psychologist and parenting author, Steve Biddulph, children under the age of 3 should remain in the care of a close relative, as formal or institutionalized daycare situations can lead to separation anxiety, emotional vulnerability and stress.
While receivers of the Labor Government’s paid parental leave scheme will not be eligible for the Baby Bonus, they will receive nearly 50% more funding over the 18 week period than mothers who stay home with their children and claim the Baby Bonus. While “working families” who claim the paid leave will receive $543.78 (taxable Federal Minimum Wage) per week for 18 weeks, the $5000 Baby Bonus breaks down to $277.78 per week.
Additionally, families who outsource their children’s care will receive childcare funding approximately twice that of the Family Tax Benefit B received by families who use informal and family-based care.
The Kids First Parent Association of Australia estimates that over 3.5 billion taxpayer dollars will be spent on non-parental care (includes child care benefit, child care rebate, Jobs Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance and Child Care Services Support) for 600,000 families during the 2011-2012 financial year. Alternatively, it will cost taxpayers less than 4.5 million dollars to fund Family Tax Benefit B to 1.4 million families with one stay-at-home-parent.
© Eva Whiteley 2010
Steve Biddulph, Raising Babies: Should Under 3s Go To Nursery