The ACTU has welcomed as a major breakthrough for Australian women and their families Labor’s announcement today that it will introduce a paid maternity leave scheme that provides new mothers with a payment of more than $5000.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

“Labor’s new ‘Baby Care Payment’ is a major policy breakthrough.”

“It represents a big win for Australian women and for the unions that have worked hard and long to see a national paid maternity leave scheme put in place.”

“We are now one step closer to that goal.”

“Unlike the Howard government’s flawed ‘Baby Bonus’, Labor’s ‘Baby Care Payment’ gives new mothers help when they need it most – at the time of the birth of their child.”

“Labor’s new policy gives a tax-free payment of $3000 to mothers at the time of the birth of their child. This payment will rise to $5380 over time.”

“Labor’s new plan will ensure that mothers have a secure income at the time of the birth of their baby and during its earliest weeks.”

“By providing all low and middle income mothers with the same level of payment regardless of their job status, the size or sector of their employer or the length of their employment, Labor’s scheme is a good foundation for a better balance between work and family.”

“Labor’s Baby Care Payment ensures taxpayer money is directed to the families that need it most.”

“It is streets ahead of the Howard Government’s unfair, inefficient and ineffective ‘Baby Bonus’ – the scheme it will replace when Labor is elected.”

“The ACTU has long supported paid maternity leave because it is essential for better child and maternal health and provides the best support for mothers in their parenting role. It is about giving babies the best start in life.”

“Paid maternity leave is also crucial for women’s equal participation in society and will help narrow the gap in pay for working women.”

“Along with other measures that assist mothers to stay in work after the birth of their child, Labor’s plan will improve Australia’s international competitiveness through higher levels of female employment and help retain valuable skills in the workforce.”

“The introduction of Labor’s scheme would leave the USA as the only OECD nation without national paid maternity leave.”