Labor has used the first post-budget Question Time to accuse the Federal Government of labelling mothers claiming two lots of paid parental leave as “rorters and fraudsters”.
Under measures in the budget, mothers will no longer be able to claim paid parental leave from both their employer and the Government.
Treasurer Joe Hockey on Sunday agreed with Channel Nine journalist Laurie Oakes that getting money from both schemes was “basically fraud”.
“Well, it is, in many cases it’s mostly people who go on parental leave that earn more than $90,000 a year,” Mr Hockey said.
“But there are people at various levels who have been claiming parental leave payments from taxpayers, as well as from their employers.”
The next day, Social Services Minister Scott Morrison told Sky News that being able to benefit from both schemes was a “rort”.
It was in response to a question about whether he considered an employer paying a lawyer six weeks maternity leave was generous.
Mr Morrison said: “Well, she will get the balance through the paid parental leave scheme which is provided by the taxpayer.
“She will get the same thing as someone working for the bakery, and that’s the important thing here – we are getting rid of what is an inequity and frankly in many cases I think is a rort.”
Abbott says Labor claims ‘simply false’
Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek seized on the quote in Question Time, asking Prime Minister Tony Abbott whether he agreed mothers benefiting from two schemes were “rorters and fraudsters”.
“Claims that have been made by members opposite about statements by ministers in this Government are simply false,” he said.
Labor’s families spokeswoman Jenny Macklin asked Mr Morrison whether he stood by the sentiment.
Mr Morrison said he did not think the current arrangements were fair.
“If you’re drawing down $20,000 from a public sector employer, and that’s 60 per cent of these cases, then you don’t get to go back to the well and say can I have another $11,000 please from the taxpayer,” he said.
“If you think that’s a fair thing, that you can put one hand in the taxpayer’s pocket for $20,000 and then put another hand in the taxpayer’s pocket for $11,000, then you wouldn’t know fairness if it fell on you.”
Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos has taken a swipe on Sky News at the way his party has been selling the change.
“It’s not a good look to be having a go at the young mothers or new mothers of Australia,” he said.
“I think some of the language has been a bit unfortunate, we could be a bit more empathetic.”