How Does Tony Abbott’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme Affect Same-Sex Parents?

The following is a letter which I have tonight sent to the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, about his Paid Parental Leave (PPL) policy. Despite the fact that PPL has been Liberal-National policy for more than 3 years, it remains unclear whether same-sex parents are included on an equal basis and, if so, how the rate of payment to the primary carer is calculated.

While I probably don’t expect an answer from him before the election, I think it is incumbent upon all activists in this area to keep asking these questions until we get a response – because after all, we deserve to know how this policy will affect LGBTI people before cast their votes.

Dear Mr Abbott


I am writing to you concerning the Paid Parental Leave (PPL) policy which you are taking to the 2013 Federal Election. Specifically, I would like to know how the PPL policy will apply to same-sex parents.

Firstly, can you please confirm that same-sex couples will qualify, on an equal basis, to PPL under a Liberal-National Government? This should include the ability of one parent to access primary carer leave, and another parent to access the shorter, paid parental leave – in the same way that heterosexual couples would qualify.

Secondly, I would like to know how the rates of these payments will be calculated. Based on information already released, my understanding is that, for all heterosexual couples, primary carer payments will be calculated according to the salary of the ‘mother’ (irrespective of who is in fact the primary carer after birth).

How are payment rates for the primary carer calculated for same-sex couples, including male couples who have children through adoption or surrogacy? The salary of the ‘birth mother’ in these circumstances may be irrelevant, especially where she does not become a parent of the child. In this case, would same-sex parents be able to nominate the primary carer and therefore the salary according to which the payment is calculated?

These are important questions which you and the Liberal-National Coalition should answer ahead of the election – Australia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community deserve to know how one of your long-standing policies affects them, or indeed whether it covers them at all.

Thank you in advance for considering this correspondence.

Yours sincerely

Alastair Lawrie