Abbott Government’s Paid Parental Leave policy chaos; Tony Abbott’s cuts to family support and child care; Liberal leadership


KATE ELLIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CHILD CARE: Today we can clearly see the utter chaos, the confusion and total dysfunction at the heart of the Abbott Government. With reports today that Government members themselves have absolutely no idea what their Paid Parental Leave policy is., have absolutely no idea when it will be introduced, or when we will have answers to simple questions. 

Make no mistake, Tony Abbott staked his leadership and his credibility on his signature policy; his Paid Parental Leave policy. On no fewer than 17 occasions prior to the last election, Tony Abbott stated that this Paid Parental Policy was his own, “signature policy”. It was his pet project. Today, we can see that if Australians cannot trust the Prime Minister with his own signature policy, they cannot trust him with absolutely anything. 

If the Prime Minister is prepared, after all of these years, to finally step away from his signature Paid Parental Leave policy, we clearly know that Australians cannot trust an utter word that comes out of his mouth.  This is yet another broken promise, yet another lie, from a Prime Minister that we see now just trying to desperately protect his own job. 

We have seen talk about a family package, we need to be really clear, this Government have announced their family package, it was in the Budget.  Now if they are to have any credibility, if this is anything other than just another fraud that is designed purely to protect the Prime Minister’s job, the first thing that they will do is come out and announce that they will reverse the $5.5 billion dollars in cuts this Government have introduced to family payments and the $1 billion in cuts they have already announced to the child care system. 

If they do not come out and state that they will immediately reverse these cuts, then we know that this is nothing other than more game playing, from a Government that is increasingly out of control. 

JOURNALIST: Does the Prime Minister have any credibility in your eyes?

ELLIS: The Prime Minister himself stated 17 times that Paid Parental Leave was his “signature policy”. If he walks away from that it shows that he stands for absolutely nothing, shows that he will lie about absolutely anything, and says that he cannot be trusted on a single word that he says.

JOURNALIST: But would Tony Abbott walking away from the PPL be more or less the equivalent of Kevin Rudd walking away from the CPRS?

ELLIS: Well, we know that Tony Abbott himself said that this was his personal project, that this was his signature policy - if he doesn’t stand for this, he doesn’t stand for absolutely anything. Now we’ve been clear all along, Labor has made clear that the Government’s Paid Parental Leave policy was flawed. It was bad policy, it was unfair policy, and it was expensive policy.

We’ve been clear on our position on this Paid Parental Leave policy, but equally, the Prime Minister has stated time and time again, that he is committed to it, and if the Australian people could trust him on anything, they could trust him on delivering that policy. It is clear today that the Australian public cannot trust this Prime Minister’s word.

JOURNALIST: Do you think if Tony Abbott backs down on PPL it would be the same as when Kevin Rudd backed down on that?

ELLIS: Well I think we can see that the Prime Minister is desperately trying to protect his own job, the Prime Minister was not prepared to listen to the Australian public, was not prepared to listen to the experts when it came to the flaws in the Paid Parental Leave policy. But now, the Prime Minister is trying to absolutely anything that he can to protect his own job, and appease his own backbench.

JOURNALIST: Obviously things are a bit tricky for Tony Abbott and his leadership team at the moment, as someone who is from a party that has changed leaders before can you offer any advice, or his party any advice?

ELLIS: Look, I’m not in the position of offering any advice to Tony Abbott or the Liberal Party, but I will say one thing. It does not make any difference whether it is Tony Abbott, whether it is Julie Bishop, whether it is Malcolm Turnbull, or any other contender who is leading the Liberal Party. We know that their bad policies stay the same. Each and every one of those MPs has stood up to attack our Medicare system. They have stood up to cut our child care support. They have stood up to rip money out of our university sector, and to attack the so-called “unity ticket” which was created on school funding. It is not just the leader that is the problem, it is this rotten Government, and each and every one of them have stood by those policies. 

JOURNALIST: Do you think walking away from the scheme is going to get support?

ELLIS: Look, I think the Prime Minister is making it up as he goes along now. This is a Prime Minister who is desperately spiraling; it is a Prime Minister who is in deep desperation to hold onto his own job. His credibility lies in absolute tatters, and if he is to announce a family policy that does not start with reversing the five and a half billion dollars in cuts to family payments he’s already made, then that shows he is nothing other than a total fraud. 

JOURNALIST: So you are saying he is pretty much damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t?

ELLIS: Look I think the Prime Minister has got himself into this situation. What the Australian public need is not a Prime Minister who is worried about his own job, but one who is actually going to stand up against their cost of living pressures and put policies in place that will assist them. We need to be really clear that this Paid Parental Leave policy isn’t just about the Prime Minister’s future, it isn’t just about the Prime Minister’s credibility, but that actually mums and dads across the nation, they need certainty when it comes to making decisions about their family and about their workforce participation, and they are getting absolutely nothing other than chaos and confusion from this Government.