JUDITH IRELAND June 08, 2012
Opposition leader Tony Abbott Photo: David Porter
Opposition leader Tony Abbott says that the only families that can have more children without losing money are those on welfare.
In a speech in Melbourne today on social inclusion, Mr Abbott justified the need for his generous paid parental leave scheme by arguing that poorer people can have more children because of the welfare support they receive.
‘‘At present, the only families that can have more children without damaging their financial position are those on welfare,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s one of the reasons why the birth rate tends to be higher among people of lower socio-economic status.’’
Mr Abbott said that the Coalition’s paid-parental leave policy - which provides mothers with six months of leave at their full wage - was an ‘‘acknowledgement of contemporary social reality''.
‘‘Most households can’t afford to lose a substantial part of their regular income,’’ he said.
‘‘If that’s what having a child means, then fewer families will have children and they will have fewer children.’’
In his address, Mr Abbott argued that the Gillard government ‘‘looks like it is deliberately trying to set Australian against Australian’’ with its use of ‘‘class war rhetoric’’.
‘‘It’s almost the polar opposite of Bob Hawke’s search for consensus,’’ he said.
The Opposition Leader also announced two new commitments aimed at improving Indigenous employment and law enforcement.
Mr Abbott said he wanted to renew reconciliation by adopting ‘‘more imaginative ways’’ to include Indigenous Australians in the mainstream economy.
Mr Abbott said a Coalition government would invest $10 million in trial programs that would see 1000 Indigenous Australians trained for a guaranteed job.
The scheme would link in with an existing scheme established by mining magnate Andrew Forest.
‘‘Rather than train Aboriginal people for jobs that might not exist or give Aboriginal people training employers might not want, [Mr Forest’s] method is to identify willing employers, earmark suitable jobs and guarantee Aboriginal people ongoing employment provided they do the training and take the job,’’ he said.
Mr Abbott also announced that an incoming Coalition government would ask state governments to merge two existing attorney-generals and police ministers councils into one COAG council on law and crime.
The new council would be asked to report back to the prime minister within twelve months on Australia’s border security arrangements, crime gangs, community crime prevention, cyber safety and laws about working with children.
‘‘This should help to close the gap between those who make the law and those who enforce it,’’ Mr Abbott said.
‘‘People are sick of self-evidently absurd situations, such as the now notorious flight of Captain Emad, where the computer at the airport gate could identify a people smuggler but the government couldn’t stop him.’’