Minister Rishworth Press Conference in Canberra


Topics: Paid Parental Leave expansion

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: It’s a really good day for families in Australia. What we have passed through the Senate now means that we will have the largest extension to Paid Parental Leave - the Government paid parental leave - since its inception. From the first of July, the payment will expand to 22 weeks and then go to 24 and 26 weeks by 2026. So this is really good news, but it is off the back of improvements we've already made to Paid Parental Leave. Our first tranche of changes actually made the means testing more generous and allowed for more flexibility for families to be able to use it how and when they want. This new change, of course, embeds that, but also encourages shared care. This was an important recommendation from the Women's Economic Equality Task Force. And I'm very proud that the Government has now legislated and families will be able to start claiming this from next week. You're allowed to pre-claim if you're going to have a baby past the first of July, you will receive the extra payment. So this is a very, very important change. Of course, our next tranche will be adding superannuation on to the Government Paid Parental Leave scheme. And now that important measure will support women's economic equality in this country. I would like to thank Michelle O'Neill and the ACTU, along with the many business groups, many women's groups, many workers and employers that have called for this change. This is a very historic day for Australia. But our work is not done and we will continue to work to make sure that our Paid Parental Leave scheme improves. Now, of course, who knows where the opposition will be when it comes to superannuation on Paid Parental Leave. We've heard Senator James Paterson, I think it was last week or perhaps the week before, say that this was something he may not support, because this Paid Parental Leave was more like a welfare payment. Well, I think Senator Paterson doesn't quite understand the history of Paid Parental Leave. Paid Parental Leave itself is an important workplace entitlement that allows parents and families to juggle the care of a newborn baby with their work obligations. So this is a really historic day. And thank everyone for their support, but we'll keep getting on with the work and the next stop is legislating for superannuation on Paid Parental Leave.

JOURNALIST: If someone's already started their Paid Parental Leave by July and then it goes into the next financial year with these changes, can they tack those extra two weeks on.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: No, it's the applications past the first of July for each year.

JOURNALIST: How about with small business? There were the concerns about opt in and opt out. Can you explain that?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Look, quite frankly, there wasn't the evidence to back up removing small business from this. Employers play such a critical role in administering Paid Parental Leave and ensuring that the connection between the workplace and the employee are strong is so important. We saw that through the pandemic, just how important it was to keep that connection. And of course, many employers are very grateful that the Government is increasing its contribution to 26 weeks. We will always look at how we improve the administration of Paid Parental Leave for businesses and make sure that it's as smooth as possible, but that connection is critically important. [Divisions interrupt]. I’m sorry I have to go into the chamber.