Federal Families Minister Jenny Macklin
Federal Families Minister Jenny Macklin Claudia Baxter

Women urged to join discussion on paid parental leave

WOMEN in regional Queensland need to join the discussion on paid parental leave, as advocates warn key decisions are being made by men who think they know better.

Comments from Federal Families Minister Jenny Macklin painting the Opposition's scheme as "favouring the wealthy" were met with caution by a key group representing women in regional communities.

Queensland Rural, Regional and Remote Women's Network president Georgie Somerset said women needed to understand how they would be affected.

"At the moment, we have a lot of men discussing what might be best for women," Ms Somerset said.

"I'd like to see regional women getting involved in this discussion, especially young women contemplating having a child in the next couple of years.

"I'm hoping women will contact their candidates about this."

Ms Macklin told a Sydney conference on Wednesday all Australians would be paying to support high-earning women having children.

"At its most basic, I don't believe it is fair that a woman earning more than $150,000 a year will receive $75,000 in government assistance when they have a baby," she said.

"A cleaner on minimum wage will get just $16,000 from the government.

"And a woman who isn't working before the birth of her child would be left behind even further."

The National Foundation of Australian Women compares both schemes.

To qualify for either, the mother-to-be must earn below $150,000 a year, and have worked at least 10 months.

The ALP scheme pays women minimum wage for 18 weeks - about $622.20 per week - with no superannuation, paid for from consolidated revenue.

The planned Coalition equivalent will match the woman's wage up to $150,000 for 26 weeks including superannuation, paid for by a levy on big business.



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