Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos has distanced himself from the government’s stance toward mothers “double dipping” in paid parental leave, warning it’s “not a good look”.
On Sunday, Social Services Minister Scott Morrison announced mothers would no longer be allowed to access leave from both their employer and the government, in a move expected to save $1 billion.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it ‘didn’t seem right’ working mothers were allowed to “double dip” and claim both schemes.
In an interview on Sky News on Wednesday night, Mr Sinodinos said the measure was less about fairness, as Mr Abbott has insisted in various interviews, than restoring the budget.
“Let’s not beat around the bush, it’s about finding a saving at a time when savings were needed,” the 58-year-old said.
When asked if “double dipping” was a term he’d use, Mr Sinodinos said the government “should be a bit more empathetic” toward mothers.
“I think the problem is, it’s not a good look to be having a go at the young mothers or new mothers of Australia and I think some of the language has been a bit unfortunate,” he said.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek accused Coalition ministers in parliament on Wednesday of treating new mothers as “rorters and fraudsters”, a claim Mr Abbott denied.
“Let’s get this absolutely crystal clear,” he said. “The treasurer never called anyone… a fraudster and the minister for social services never called anyone on paid parental leave a rorter.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will deliver his budget reply speech on Thursday evening, with the major theme expected to be unfairness and cuts to school, hospitals, as well as the paid parental leave scheme.
Mr Shorten is also expected to identify some of Labor’s savings plans, including its proposal to chase down multinationals who avoid paying tax in Australia, and stripping back superannuation tax concessions for the highest earners.
Mr Sinodinos warned the tough spending cuts were not over and there was a lot of hard work still to come.
“We’re going to have to go back to some of the areas we’ve already cut and cut further,” he said.