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Saturday, January 04, 2003
Maternity (& paternity) benefits

The Melbourne Age dated 14th December, reported that:
Australia's working women will win the right to 14 weeks of taxpayer-funded maternity leave in next year's federal budget as part of an overhaul of family benefits and increased support for child care.
(I am sorry I cannot provide a free link to the piece.) This legislation is very dependent upon 'the state of the surplus at budget time'. Naturally, voices have been raised objecting to the idea as economic nonsense (from industry), saying that it doesn't go far enough (women's groups) and that it discriminates against men (all sorts of groups). 'What about paid paternal leave?' these last groups ask.

These pro-men groups are not thinking ahead properly. I would urge the federal parliament to make the legislation as unisex as possible. For example, working men should also have the right to paid leave if they give birth. This is not so ridiculous as it may sound. Australia is renowned for its far-sighted attitudes in most areas. They will not be unaware of the developments in cloning and other fertility issues. Several years ago, Sir Robert Winston, the pioneer British fertility expert said that there was no reason why men should not be able to have babies 'soon'.

Don't you think someone should start to plan for it before it happens instead of having to cover the eventuality after the first case? Australia seems to be the right place for this sort of forward planning. Women the redundant sex? Whatever next?

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