Paid parental leave bill deserves full consideration by Parliament

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Media release: 26 for Babies.   Wednesday October 17, 2012

A bill extending paid parental leave deserves careful consideration by Parliament, including over the costing of the bill, the 26 for Babies coalition said today.

A Parliamentary select committee has today begun hearing evidence on Sue Moroney’s bill to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks.

26 for Babies spokesperson Deborah Morris-Travers said the only criticism that has been levelled against the bill so far has been affordability, but today new evidence was presented to Parliament that the likely cost of the bill was substantially lower than earlier reports.

“At today’s hearing, committee members were given new analysis by Infometrics that showed the cost over three years for extending paid parental leave to 26 weeks would be $166 million.  This is just over a third of what was suggested by the Finance Minister back in April.”

“This bill has attracted strong support from members of the public and community organisations, who understand the benefits of ensuring that parents have more time to invest in the health, wellbeing and secure attachment of their infant in the early months.”

“The costs of extending paid parental leave needed to be weighed against these benefits.”

“Investing in the early years promotes productivity in the economy and in society at large with a much higher rate of return than later interventions in remedial services.  The OECD and others have found parental leave is a cost effective method in improving child health.”

“If affordability is the only criticism levelled against this initiative, then Parliament needs to carefully consider accurate costings of the bill, and weight it up against the social gains of parents having more support to care and nurture their children in the early weeks and months of their life,” Deborah Morris-Travers said.

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