Pauline Hanson slams bill for paid parental leave

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Pauline Hanson
Pauline Hanson speaks during a news conference in Sydney, February 19, 2003. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has criticised the government's current $4 billion omnibus savings bill for paid parental leave, saying it will be abused by some parents who will get themselves pregnant for money. The senator said the Baby Bonus will encounter the same problems.

"They get themselves pregnant and [the government will] have the same problems they did with the Baby Bonus, with people just doing it for the money,” Hanson told the Australian. She pointed that she has gone through difficult times as a single mother herself but was able to endure without government assistance because she worked for a part-time job.

“I had no assistance, no help from anyone. But we have such a welfare handout mentality,” she added.

The government proposes that paid parental would lengthen its scheme from 18 to 20 weeks but limits access if a mother also draws paid leave from her employer. Hanson believes that the proposal is too generous. The senator reportedly raised her concerns with Treasurer Scott Morrison.

Daily Mail notes that Hanson initially supported the omnibus savings bill but has altered her stance. Crossbenchers Jacqui Lambie, David Leyonhjelm, Derryn Hinch and Cory Bernardi have earlier announced they wouldn't be supporting the bill because the welfare cuts to families were too deep. “Unless we make the tough ­decisions, we will not be able to provide for those in the future who need a helping hand, like the aged, the sick and the needy,” Hanson maintained.

Jenny Macklin, the opposition social services spokeswoman, said Labor designed the taxpayer-funded parental leave scheme to be supplemented by employer contributions.  She said some of the employer schemes are very modest. “The government is taking $1 billion out of the pockets of new mothers, so this new measure is going to hurt low and middle-income women,” Macklin told ABC radio.

Nick Xenophon, leader of the Nick Xenophon Team, set it straight during the election that he is not in favour of the omnibus savings bill. His team is reportedly negotiating with the government before making a final decision.

One Nation’s NSW senator Brian Burston expressed concern regarding the retrospectivity of changes affecting pensioners. It is likely to include ending the pensioner education supplement and a clampdown on payments to pensioners overseas. “It’s quite unfair that people have planned for retirement based on existing legislation,” he said. Burston believes that the government needs to launch an alternative compromise.