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Issue #1719      February 17, 2016

Dingo

New parents in low-paid jobs will be up to $10,500 worse off under the Turnbull government’s paid parental leave plan, according to the research conducted by the University of Sydney’s Women and Work Research Group. The research was commissioned by women’s group Fair Agenda. Mothers who work in healthcare, teaching and retail could lose $3,945 to $10,512 under the policy. In the infamous 2015 budget, the Abbott government unveiled changes restricting 80,000 new mothers from “double dipping” (ex-treasurer’s Joe Hockey favourite phrase at the time) by accessing both employer and government parental leave schemes. In the modified scheme, the weeks of paid leave from the employer are deducted from the government’s 18-week scheme. Fair Agenda said mothers with employer-based schemes would miss out because of the reduction in the weeks of government-paid leave they could access. It will mean that thousands of new mothers will be forced out of the workforce or leave their babies in care to return to work too early.

The Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC) latest donor report revealed that Philip Morris, international tobacco giant, donated $10,780 to the National Party in 2014-2015. Scott Mitchell, the National Party federal director, denied that the two most recent tobacco payments were political donations. Instead, the money was supposed to be the fees for the tobacco company to meet the party’s federal council and to attend drinks after budget night. The Nationals did not declare the two payments because they fell under the AEC’s $13,000 threshold, Mitchell explained. Well, somebody has gone to some trouble to make sure it all looks right. Considering that smoking still remains the largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia killing about 15,000 people a year, the acceptance of money from a tobacco company is the last thing any party should contemplate. No wonder the donations were split so as not to attract the AEC’s attention and were not declared.

Kevin Andrews is a former defence minister. He and former PM Tony Abbott seem to be taking the “former”’ bit very hard. Dumped in September, they still think they have a chance of a come-back, or at least a pay-back. Abbott went to the US to address the Christian conservative group Alliance Defending Freedom. Andrews decided to ignore the opening of Parliament and go to the same country for a “National Prayer Breakfast”. Prayers aside, Andrews also decided to deliver a national security address to the Heritage Foundation, a most conservative policy institution. Andrews is a backbencher. He has no right to address anybody anywhere on behalf of Australia and its citizens.

Next article – Region Briefs

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