Mothers who give birth after July 1, 2015 will get six months' leave on full pay under Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's paid parental leave scheme, which the Labor government has branded as unfair, as it argues that all babies should be worth the same amount of money.
The details of the scheme, including its start date, were released on Sunday as Mr Abbott met Melbourne mothers for coffee in a Malvern cafe.
The Coalition policy, which will be funded by a 1.5 per cent levy on the top-earning Australian companies, gives mothers earning up to $150,000 a year 26 weeks' leave on full pay, to a maximum of $75,000.
Unlike the government's more modest scheme, superannuation will be paid during the maternity leave, which, according to Coalition modelling, will amount to $50,000 extra in superannuation earnings by age 65 for any woman on the average wage.
Under the government's scheme, mothers receive up to 18 weeks' pay at the national minimum wage.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek says it's not fair to give more support to women who are on higher salaries.
''It's incredibly unfair,'' she told Sky News on Sunday. ''We don't give more to the people who already have more. We give more help to the people who need more help.''
According to reports in News Corp newspapers, the scheme has been fully costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office, showing it will cost taxpayers $6.1 billion over the forward estimates, in addition to the 1.5 per cent business levy, which will be paid by the highest earning 3000 companies.
Mr Abbott has previously said that paid parental leave would happen ''over [the Howard] government's dead body'' but he says that his personal evolution on the issue shows that the Coalition now ''gets it''.
However, many within Coalition ranks are uncomfortable with the scheme.
Mr Abbott admitted on Sunday that 10 years ago he would not have accepted the kind of paid parental scheme he was announcing.
''If we want families to have more kids, if we want women to have a fair dinkum choice to have a family, and maybe to extend the size of their family and to have a career, we need a policy like this," he said.
''That's why I have a convert's zeal on this.''
Mr Abbott insisted his scheme would not make women less employable because its costs would not be imposed on individual businesses. ''You can employ as many women under 50 as you want, and it won't impose any cost burdens on your business,'' he said. ''This is a very female-friendly policy.''
smh.com.au, with AAP