Tony Abbott's policy-on-the-run for 6 months fully paid maternity leave, with actual income up to $150,000/year (ie up to $75,000, but highly variable, and inconsistent) left many Liberal Party members in shock. He had not consulted them, not had the policy approved by Shadow Cabinet, let alone a party meeting, And, he said it would be funded by a levy on big business. (those with incomes more than $5 million) They haven't addressed the concept that different women would be paid different amounts of maternity pay, just because they're richer, or poorer.
It would certainly provide, and require, more money than Kevin Rudd's (Labor) proposed legislation for 6-months paid maternity leave at minimum wage rates.
Tony Abbott used the word 'levy', rather than 'tax', because he's been accusing the Government's Emission Trading Scheme of being "a great big new tax". Following attacks in Parliament about his own 'great big new tax' on business, the Libs have rallied. In a number of interviews, Sharman Stone, Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and the Status of Women, said they are not calling it a tax, they are calling it "an investment in human capital".
Big business called it a tax, and don't want it. Taxpayers recognise it as a tax; media interviewers recognise it as a tax. If it looks like a tax, smells like a tax, and is paid like a tax ... The Liberals deny it's a tax. Moreover, if I were a woman, I would not want to be referred to as "human capital" for the use of business as they see fit. Businesses view capital as something from which they want a return. Capital is something to be used. It's impersonal.
We should be debating whether or not the policy is "good policy" not playing with words, and not hiding the details, and flow-on effects of a new tax on business.
The Liberal Party should be straight with people, and say "Yes, it's a tax. IF Australia is to adopt our paid maternity scheme, we need new taxes. Big business will pass on the cost to taxpaying consumers, who will ultimately pay" There, I've said it for them.