Prime Minister Tony Abbott has capitulated on his controversial paid parental leave scheme, Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has confirmed.
Mr Abbott will announce the scrapping of his signature policy during a highly anticipated speech at the National Press Club on Monday.
The backdown comes as pressure mounts on the PM following a horror fortnight of plummeting approval ratings and record swings against the LNP in Saturday’s Queensland election.
“The PPL, we’ve taken [it] off the table,” Mr Frydenberg told ABC radio on Monday.
“He will say that it’s off the table because the prime minister understands that what is desirable is not always doable.”
The scheme, which Mr Abbott took to the 2010 and 2013 elections, would have paid new mothers or fathers their full salary for six months, capped at an annual income of $100,000.
Social Services Minister Scott Morrison said the focus was on childcare at the moment.
“We’re not proceeding with the paid parental leave scheme that has been advanced because the priority is to get the focus on childcare to ensure that we have a childcare package.”
Labor dubbed the scheme “gold-plated”, while members of the Coalition had also called for the policy to be abandoned.
It was too difficult to proceed with Mr Abbott’s “signature” parental leave policy given the tight budgetary environment, Mr Frydenberg said
“There will be an emphasis on child care and how we can build and boost female workforce participation,” the assistant treasurer said.
“The prime minister recognises that he has to be pragmatic about it.”
He batted away criticism of the decision, saying Mr Abbott had consulted colleagues extensively and taken into account the Productivity Commission’s report into child care.
“You can’t criticise him for taking leadership on this issue even though he said at the last election that we’re going to introduce the PPL.”
Queensland MP Ewen Jones said he knew many women who would be deeply disappointed by the decision.
“But it was too hard a sell, and it has to go,” he said.
– with AAP