Cuts to paid parental leave will widen gender pay gap

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said the changes were 'inconsistent with Australia’s international human r

After his resounding success in the immigration portfolio — in which international treaty obligations were trashed, human rights trammelled, and asylum seekers fleeing from persecution were greeted with perverse punishment — Scott Morrison was promoted to minister for social services where he wasted no time attacking the unemployed, the disabled and aged pensioners.

It seemed impossible to go any lower. But if anyone was going to manage it, it was the minister whose arrogance is outweighed only by his ambition to be prime minister.

Now it is expectant mothers he is trying to vilify.

The Coalition went into the last federal election with the promise to introduce a $5.5 billion paid parental leave system which would allow most women to access 26 weeks parental leave at their current wage.

It was capped at an annual salary of $150,000.

After being elected on this promise, the Coalition then scrapped it and reverted to the previous Labor government scheme. This provides for a maximum of 18 weeks leave paid at the rate of the national minimum wage, the princely sum of $11,539.

But women who were fortunate enough to have access to an employer scheme as well were labelled "leaners" and "double-dippers" and Morrison introduced amendments to deny them access to the scheme.

These amendments are presently being examined by a Senate committee where Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick has argued that Morrison’s amendments would exacerbate the current gender pay gap as well as likely to be detrimental to the workforce participation rate of women.

She wrote in a submission to the inquiry: "On its face, the bill is a retrogressive measure, inconsistent with Australia’s international human rights obligations’’.

These human rights are contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which embraces the right to social security, maternity leave with pay, and just and favourable working conditions.

The other relevant conventions which Morrison’s amendments breach are the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Labor spokeswoman on families Jenny Macklin also condemned the amendments saying they would "limit the right to equality and non-discrimination contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights", and called on Morrison to withdraw the amendments.

This will not happen because Morrison needs the support of six of the eight Senate crossbenchers to get the measures enacted.

Morrison described paid parental leave as a "first-world issue". Well, that would be because Australia is a first-world country such as, say, Sweden where parents receive a total of 480 days leave for each child with 390 days paid at 80% of their salary.

And unlike a country such as Mali where paid parental leave is available for only 14 weeks at 100% of their salary.

Morrison purports to be a deeply religious person who is also a diehard conservative, typical of misogynist males who validate their authority by wanting to control women’s bodies and their lives.

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