PPL: having kids is not a lifestyle choice

I just think the forklift driver in Mount Druitt shouldn’t be paying his taxes so a pretty little lady lawyer on the North Shore earning $180,000 a year can have a kid.

Remember that line from the last of the three election debates?

Or how about this one from Senator-Elect Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm.

‘Why should people without children’s taxes be used to pay people with children?

Indeed, why should this be the case?

Even though the Coalition Government has stressed that their proposed Parental Leave (PPL) Scheme is funded by the 1.5% levy on company tax, the overall sentiment of ‘why should my taxes go towards this scheme’ remains.

So, for the sake of the argument, let’s run with it.

Who knew that decades of women agitating for better working conditions – the battle for women being entitled to paid parental leave as a work place entitlement – would still be raging?

This is the key distinction between the ex-Labor Government’s Paid Parental Leave policy and the Coalition’s; the latter wants to move PPL out of social security and have it instead become a workplace entitlement.

PPL needs to be a workplace entitlement to change the culture surrounding wanting to have a baby and wanting to participate in the work- force.

As it stands, it is divisive when it shouldn’t be.

Women and couples wanting to have children is not an anomaly. There needs to be a practical and a cultural solution to this issue. Why having children and wanting a career remains an either/or situation is peculiar. People are capable of being passionate about their job and their family.

It is pivotal to begin normalising PPL in line with other workplace entitlements. Containing it to the realm of social security sends negative messages that couples wanting to start a family are simply riding off the coat-tails of everyone else.

Somehow in this debate, couples who wish to have children aren’t highlighted in the conversation of what they would like to see happen with their taxes. Has the woman not given years of service to an employer and paid years of taxes? Will the father who will continue to work not contribute tax to the Commonwealth?

And you know what?

Moving PPL out of welfare and introducing it as a workplace entitlement means that it too will be taxed; just as annual leave, sick leave, carer’s leave and all the other entitlements are.

Oh my goodness, it’s raining taxes.

But we still have the issue of ‘lifestyle choice’.  This is what we’ve come to. Wanting a family is seen as a lifestyle choice.  A lifestyle choice is doing yoga every morning at 6am. A lifestyle choice is having meat-free-Mondays. A lifestyle choice is taking an annual sabbatical.

Starting a family may be a choice but please let’s not pretend that having children doesn’t have a beneficial impact on a nation and its citizens. It’s well documented that maintaining a replacement birthrate of 2.1 is an economic imperative. These children are our future doctors, lawyers, teachers, social workers, even politicians. Human capital is this nation’s greatest asset. Without it, everything else is for nought.

Australia’s tax system, on the surface, simply functions as a way of collecting money from the working population to redistribute for the benefit of all. On a deeper level, Australia’s tax system is a representation of its values.

It’s true.

If rejecting the Coalition’s Paid Parental Leave were merely a fiscal decision, then asylum seekers would be assessed onshore because we all know that it is much cheaper than the current offshore arrangements.

But Australia doesn’t do that, does it?

Australian claims that one of its core values is egalitarianism.  However, this is in direct contrast to the call of ‘why should my taxes?’ that gripped the electorate this year.  The first step back to being egalitarian is to realise that the taxes you pay aren’t necessarily redistributed back to you, directly.

The taxes you pay can to go help an Indigenous community in rural Australia.

The taxes you pay can go to foreign aid; a road that you’ll never drive on, a rail-line you’ll never ride, a service that you’ll never access.

What taxes do is make this country a better place to live in; and that does benefit you.


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