Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Eva supports Tony

This is at least the second time that Eva Cox (nee Hauser.  Don't ask about Mr Cox) has spoken in support of Tony Abbott.  Has she swung right in her declining years (she is 75)?  It happens.  But what she says is spot-on anyway

Some of Australia’s most prominent women voices support Tony Abbott’s controversial paid parental leave scheme but they warn it will not have the desired productivity uplift unless childcare is made less expensive.

Melbourne University Publishing chief executive Louise Adler said Mr Abbott, labelled a misogynist in Parliament by former prime minister Julia Gillard, was to be congratulated for his new attitude to paid parental leave. “I’m in favour of anything that assists families to be with their children,” she said.

Carol Schwartz, a key adviser to the Labor federal government on gender issues, was less concerned about the cost of the scheme than ensuring more money goes to accessible and affordable childcare at the same time.

And leading academic Eva Cox rounded on fellow feminists to declare their “shrill” criticism of Mr Abbott’s policy was the product of their personal dislike for the would-be prime minister.

Mr Abbott is under attack from within his own party and among his traditional business supporter base after revealing the Coalition’s parental leave scheme will cost $10 billion in the first two years and then $5.5 billion annually once fully operational.

The price tag, which will be paid for via a levy on big business to be offset by a cut in the company tax rate, has detractors questioning his promise of prudent economic management and a return to surplus as soon as possible.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief economist Greg Evans said the scheme would no doubt benefit small businesses, which could offer staff more generous leave without being hit by the levy.

“We would have preferred, especially in the current circumstances, perhaps a more modest scheme.” he said.
Adler published Abbott’s book in 2009

“We understand the policy intent is to create greater workforce participation, allow more women to get back into the workforce and the like. We certainly agree with that but . . . a more modest scheme could have also done the job.”

Ms Adler published Mr Abbott’s 2009 book, Battlelines, in which he revealed he had – much to the consternation of other Conservative politicians – come around to the idea of paid parental leave. “I was very impressed when he committed to that,” she said.

“If we want the skills, productivity and intelligence women bring to bear, then we have to have family-friendly workplaces.”

However, she is not convinced that women earning top dollar need as much support as lower to middle-income earners.

“I’m not sure that women earning $150,000 a year need the same level of financial support that people who are on $50,000 need,” Ms Adler said.

“Those of us who are earning well can manage our lives with greater ease than those who are not earning enough. I would suggest maybe it’s tapered off, but the principal of paid parental leave seems to be extremely important and I congratulate both parties for their commitment to it, but particularly for Tony Abbott who has taken a personal interest.”

Professor Cox remains fully supportive of the Abbott scheme amid the criticism of recent days. She said the Coalition’s scheme was good policy, but many in feminist and Left circles were against it simply because it was being proposed by the opposition leader.

“It’s not even political, it’s personal,” she said. “There’s a lot feminist groups that are so anti-Abbott that they are objecting to this because it’s come from him. “
Childcare policies failing

Ms Schwartz is the foundation chairwoman of the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and was in January appointed to lead consultations with business and other interest groups on the reporting requirements for the federal government’s workplace gender equality reforms.

She said childcare policies had failed under both of the major parties, and called on governments to support in-home care by nannies as an alternative to traditional child care places.

“The cookie-cutter approach that this government and previous governments have taken to childcare is really inappropriate,” she said.

“That is where we miss out on GDP growth by having more women participate in the workforce.

Brisbane mother-of-two Danielle Kalpakidis said she supported paid parental leave but believed the Coalition’s scheme, which could pay up to $75,000 for six months off, was too generous and favoured working mothers.

Ms Kalpakidis, a former teacher who is a full-time carer for her two children (aged two-years-old and nine months), said the parental leave policy would not sway her vote. “I absolutely support paid parental leave but I think the $150,000 [limit in the Coalition policy which allows a $75,000 payment plus superannuation] is a bit ridiculous because it could be better spent elsewhere in more useful policies,” she told The Australian Financial Review.

“Because I’m a stay at home mum I’ll only receive $3000 bonus and the difference between $3000 and $75,000 is quite huge. It is skewed towards working women.
Policy considered ‘middle class welfare’

“If I was working I could see the benefit but it’s not enough to encourage me to go back to work because I would like to stay home and look after my children.”

Ms Kalpakidis said she considered the Coalition’s policy as “middle class welfare” and did not encourage her to have any more children.

The former teacher, who is currently on unpaid leave, received the federal government’s 18 weeks’ maternity policy on top of the standard 12-week public servant maternity policy after the birth of her first child.

“It was very helpful to our family. But I won’t be benefiting from any new policy being a stay at home mum,” she said.

She said she would prefer the extra money going to stay at home carer.


Gillard says the ALP has no principles

She's right about that.  But it is the pot calling the kettle black

SENIOR Labor figures have justified the decision to topple Julia Gillard, arguing that the return to Kevin Rudd added as many as 10 seats to Labor's election tally in the wake of a blistering assessment on the party's election loss by Ms Gillard.

Writing on The Guardian Australia website, the former prime minister hit out at the decision to return to Mr Rudd, arguing the party had sent Australians a "very cynical and shallow message about its sense of purpose".

She also attacked Mr Rudd's new rules for selecting the leader and revealed that she watched the election night coverage alone, as she "wanted it that way".

"I wanted to just let myself be swept up in it," Ms Gillard said.

"Losing power is felt physically, emotionally, in waves of sensation, in moments of acute distress".

But leadership contender Bill Shorten yesterday defended the decision to return to Mr Rudd, saying it was in the national interest for Labor to be competitive. "I believe that Kevin Rudd did make Labor competitive," Mr Shorten said.

Outgoing agriculture minister Joel Fitzgibbon argued that Labor under Mr Rudd had added about 10 seats to its tally compared with the likely result under Ms Gillard.

Interim leader Chris Bowen said while it had to be acknowledged that Labor suffered a significant defeat, it had the basis of a viable and fighting opposition going forward.

No cabinet minister lost their seats, he said, adding that Labor had a chance to return to office at the next election if it won as many seats as it did at the 1998 or 2007 polls.

On the change of leader to Mr Rudd, Ms Gillard wrote: "Labor unambiguously sent a very clear message that it cared about nothing other than the prospects of survival of its members of parliament at the polls . . . Labor in opposition faces this as its first task: re-embracing purpose."

Ms Gillard criticised Labor's campaign tactics and having "not one truly original idea" but conceded she had "erred by not contesting the label 'tax' " referring to carbon pricing - a decision that "hurt me terribly".

She urged Labor in opposition not to abandon its support for the carbon pricing scheme.

She also urged the party to defend its economic credentials but jettison Mr Rudd's "economic nationalism", different tax rates for the Northern Territory and the policy to move navy assets away from Sydney's Garden Island. Ms Gillard said new rules for electing a leader represented exactly the wrong approach to address the so-called "revolving door" of the Labor leadership.

"These rules literally mean that a person could hang on as Labor leader and as prime minister even if every member of cabinet, the body that should be the most powerful and collegiate in the country, has decided that person was no longer capable of functioning as prime minister.

"I argue against them because they are a clumsy attempt to hold power; they are not rules about leadership for purpose."

Ms Gillard said Mr Shorten and Anthony Albanese were worthy candidates for leader.

But the party needed to start demonstrating Labor's purpose again. "Caucus and party members should use this contest to show that Labor has moved on from its leadership being determined on the basis of opinion polls, or the number of positive media profiles, or the amount of time spent schmoozing media owners and editors, or the frippery of selfies and content-less social media."

Mr Fitzgibbon conceded some of Mr Rudd's election policies were written "on the run".


Left's loony losers

Tim Blair

Our friends on the left aren't coping well with the election result. Perhaps they didn't see it coming. In any case, they've been getting their hate on during the past week. Here's how Fairfax reported the election reaction of columnist Clementine Ford:

"As an antidote to the crushing reality of Post-Abbott world she's created some cathartic t-shirts with slogans that include 'F**k Abbott' and 'Abbott is not my Prime Minister' that can be bought online."

An adult subsequently edited that free ad for Ford's T-shirts, removing the most obscene option: "As an antidote to the crushing reality of a Post-Abbott world she's created some cathartic T-shirts with slogans that include 'Abbott is not my Prime Minister' which can be bought online."

Besides cleaning up its promotion for a columnist's little side project, Fairfax also claimed that "Ford is going to direct profits" from the T-shirts to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the Aboriginal Legal Service and the Council of Single Mothers and Their Children. Not mentioned was the exact quantity of profits that would be so directed. Ford later clarified matters on her Twitter feed:

"This is for all the pro-Abbott folks out there who hate my T-shirts. I've made around $4500 in profit in two days … Some profits going to charity though!"

By "some", it turns out that Ford only meant "at least 20 per cent" of her T-shirt profits. So that's $3600 to Clementine and just $300 each to her three nominated charities. Tony Abbott hasn't even been sworn in yet, but he's already generating wealth for the privileged white professional sector of our economy.

Welcome to capitalism, Clementine. Good for you. The benefit for the rest of us is that we once again see where the left's values lie. Imagine if Abbott wasn't Australia's elected leader but an Islamic terrorist whose followers killed nearly 3000 people. Did Fairfax sell "F**k Osama" shirts? Not exactly.

Here's Fairfax columnist and cartoonist Michael Leunig writing shortly after September 11, 2001: "Might we, can we, find a place in our heart for the humanity of Osama bin Laden and those others? On Christmas Day can we consider their suffering, their children and the possibility that they too have their goodness? It is a family day, and Osama is our relative."

Fairfax types are more inclined to express hatred towards an Australian conservative than they are to a murderous Saudi psychopath. Over at the ABC, Australia's other leftist media collective, a similar divide is evident.

Recall how cautiously the ABC stepped back in May, when Mujahid Adeboloja hacked off-duty soldier Lee Rigby to death in a London street. Adeboloja lingered after the killing to explain his motivation. "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. You people will never be safe," the Islamic convert declared.

The ABC's response was bafflement. "What happened was clear," the ABC London correspondent reported. "The motivation, less so." A few days later, ABC staffers complained to 2UE after I'd mentioned this extraordinary delicacy. "Where is your primary and official source that these crimes were carried out in the name of Islam?" one demanded. Answer: the killer's confession.

Another ABC identity sent this note: "If we get it wrong it can be an international incident and inflame enormous social disharmony." Well, all Mujahid Adeboloja did was slaughter an innocent man. Let's be gentle with him. It's not as though he did something seriously wrong, like suggest a reduction to ABC funding.

That was Chris Kenny's crime. For this, the News Corp columnist was depicted by the ABC's The Hamster Decides having sex with a dog. In case nobody got the visual hint, the ABC added a handy graphic: "Dog F**ker."

Play it safe next time, Chris. Steer away from issues like ABC funding and kill somebody instead. If you claim Islamic motivation, the ABC and Fairfax will look for the possibility you, too, have some goodness.


More parents defy law with overseas surrogacy

A sharp rise in Australian children born in India shows laws criminalising commercial surrogacy are doing nothing to stop parents going overseas to find birth mothers for their children, surrogacy advocates say.

The number of citizenship requests for children born in India has risen by more than 300 per cent over the past five years, documents obtained under freedom of information show.

Surrogacy Australia founder Sam Everingham said Australians were fast becoming the highest per capita users of compensated, or commercial, surrogacy, despite laws in NSW and other states criminalising it, even if it occurs overseas.

"Australia, funnily enough, has become one of the largest surrogacy markets internationally because of the perfect storm created by the lack of access to international adoption, women leaving childbirth later on and the fact we are a wealthy country and women can afford it," he said.

Mr Everingham estimated that about 100 NSW couples each year were engaging in compensated surrogacy overseas, and about 500 nationally.

Since March 2011 NSW parents who do so have risked two years' imprisonment and fines of $275,000.

Nationally, the Family Law Council is reviewing how best to deal with the legal issues posed by increasing use of surrogacy, with a report due in December.

University of Technology, Sydney professor Jenni Millbank said figures she obtained from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship show that there were 519 applications for citizenship for children lodged in India in the 2011-12 financial year. This compared with only 126 in 2007-08.

She said it had ''never been easier'' to pay for surrogacy overseas but its legal status meant many IVF doctors were refusing to give any advice to couples considering it.

"Patients are going in blind, with no information from their doctors about how many embryos to transfer and the risks of those sorts of things," she said. "People don't want to go to a poor country and behave harmfully but they work with the information they have."

She said her discussions with Indian fertility providers indicated some had multiple pregnancy rates of between 25 and 40 per cent due to the common practice of transferring multiple embryos. Multiple transfers can put the mother and babies at risk, and in Australia IVF clinics have cracked down on the practice and have a multiple birth rate of only 8 per cent.

Professor Millbank said the steep rises in Australian children born in countries like India indicate more children are being born through compensated surrogacy, although the figures also include children who were not born through surrogacy but need to apply for citizenship overseas.

The rise is also evident in other countries commonly used for surrogacy, with Thailand increasing 54 per cent, from 297 to 459 applications, and Ukraine 122 per cent, from nine children to 20.

In a recent presentation at the Fertility Society of Australia conference, Professor Millbank argued that Australia should create an ethical framework for compensated surrogacy.

"That doesn't mean a profit-driven system, or an incentive system, but one that doesn't make it so hard to do it if people want to do it," she said. "Parents say the idea that they would ask someone to do that for free is abhorrent."


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