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Paid Parental Leave Discriminates Rural People

2 April 2002

The paid parental leave legislation passed by Parliament last week discriminates against rural families, says National's Agriculture Spokesman Gavan Herlihy.

"Mothers who may be part of the farm workforce, but deemed to be self-employed, will not qualify for the new $320 a week payment for new family arrivals.

"It's totally discriminatory that a sharemilking couple - where the new mother is an integral part of the sharemilking team - doesn't get a cracker under this new legislation.

"The sharemilkers' needs, if anything, are likely to be greater than those of their urban counterparts."

Mr Herlihy adds that many wives and partners of farm labourers who are not able to be part of the full-time workforce - due to lack of job opportunities in many isolated rural areas - will also miss out.

"On the other hand, a professional mother whose employment contract may already provide for paid parental leave will be eligible for the new Government payment of $320 a week.

"Such double-dipping is unfair and inequitable, while rural families in real need will miss out."

Gavan Herlihy believes the Government is showing contempt for rural people by introducing legislation where tax will be taken from single-income farm worker families and given to double income families - who may already have access to paid parental leave.

"This is an ill-directed piece of legislation that delivers middle class welfare to selected, vested-interest groups targeted by the Labour/Alliance Government. Unfortunately, once again, the rural sector is not one of them," Mr Herlihy concluded.

End

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