While it is more than a few years ago now, I still remember what it was like to be a new parent. It is a wonderful but exhausting time getting to know your baby and taking care of his or her needs.
In most families, mums are the primary caregivers in those first few months but even when the birth is without complications, it is vital to have good support. I know that many new fathers would like to take more time off work in those early weeks to bond with their baby and help support their partner but feel that they can’t due to financial constraints or because they don’t have enough leave available.
This is why I proposed in Parliament that the Government make changes to its Paid Parental Leave Bill to give parents of a newborn baby the option to both take paid parental leave at the same time.
There are many instances where families would prefer both parents to be able to take parental leave at the same time because of their particular circumstances. For example, if they have had twins or a premature baby, if the mother is recovering from a Caesarean section or is it risk of post-natal depression, or if they have other young children to care for.
I am disappointed that the Coalition Government has refused to consider making this change that would recognise the role of both parents and give families the flexibility to choose what works best for them.
I believe that my proposal would be good for parents and for their babies as it would allow parents to spend more time at home supporting each other and bonding with their babies in those important early months.
My proposed amendment would not extend the cost of the policy and would not change the total amount of paid parental leave that parents are able to take, which will be 22 weeks from July 1st next year.
Despite several members of the Government agreeing that this change is a good idea, the Government has refused to make this change and is instead committed to rushing this Bill through Parliament under urgency.
This doesn’t make any sense as the Bill doesn’t take effect until 1 July next year so there is no need to rush it through in this manner.
I believe that the Government should have followed the proper process of referring the Bill back to Select Committee to consider my proposal and any other ideas for improvement and give the public the opportunity to make submissions.
Despite painting itself as “family friendly”, the Government has shown that when it comes to the crunch it would rather rush through legislation than listen to what actually matters to families.
I feel strongly about this issue and this is why I have decided to promote a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament to give the coalition Government a second chance to do the right thing by new parents.