Maternity leave plan could be shelved
Article from: AAP
November 23, 2008 12:17pm
Paid maternity leave plan not guaranteed
Government coffers shrinking due to credit crunch
ACTU warns leave is "not negotiable"
UNIVERSAL paid maternity leave looks set to be delayed as the Federal Government's coffers continue to shrink on the back of the global financial crisis.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd pledged in September the government would "bite the bullet" and introduce a scheme, but the financial crisis has placed a question mark over a range of government plans.
The Productivity Commission's interim recommendation is for a universal $1.3 billion scheme of 18 weeks' paid maternity leave with a $70 million employer top-up.
Australia and the United States are the only developed nations without a universal paid parental leave scheme.
The Government is under pressure to introduce a scheme in next year's budget, but acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that that was unlikely in the face of the global financial crisis.
The Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook released earlier this month pointed to a $40 billion decline in forecast government revenue.
The Productivity Commission is set to deliver its final report in February.
"Paid maternity leave is something we believe is important but we will look at the final Productivity Commission report and we will weigh it in the budget process," Ms Gillard told ABC TV.
Ms Gillard said the financial crisis had forced the government to reassess its priorities.
"Obviously we want to be in the business of looking at paid maternity leave - that's why we have the Productivity Commission report on it - but we will deal with the final priority setting in the budget."
The ACTU warned last week that a paid maternity leave scheme in next year's budget was not negotiable, saying it was even more important in times of global financial uncertainty