Australian opposition leader revamps parental leave scheme

14:02, August 03, 2010      

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Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott has defended plans to make parents wait until 2012 to receive a paid parental leave scheme under a possible Coalition government.

Abbott used a trip to the Brisbane seat of Bowman to launch his revamped parental leave scheme as cost of living pressures dominate the campaign trail on Tuesday.

The Coalition has reduced the levy on big business to fund the 26-week scheme from 1.7 percent to 1.5 percent.

However, it will cost more than the 2.7 billion Australian dollars ( 2.5 billion U.S. dollars) originally forecast and will not begin until 2012, in contrast with the government's which will start up next year.

The Coalition would keep the government's scheme in place until then. But Abbott said he is sticking to his original pledge on the start date.

"This is within two years of coming to government, as I promised," he said.

Abbott also said the levy on business would be temporary until economic conditions improve, but would not say when it would be lifted.

The government's scheme offers 18 weeks of leave at the minimum wage while the Coalition's scheme offers 26 weeks at the rate of the mother's pay, up to 150,000 Australian dollars (136,000 U.S. dollars).

Source: Xinhua


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