There's been a step in the right direction for Aussie mothers with the introduction earlier this year of paid maternity leave for anyone who, the year before, earned less than $150,000. That's good news. The bad news is that in the first year back at work, a new mum can expect to earn 4 percent less per hour than if she had not had a child. In a new report from The Australia Institute, The Wage-Penalty Effect, The Hidden Cost of Maternity Leave, David Baker estimates that mothers are losing $126 million in foregone wages. And it doesn't correct itself. In fact, the wage disadvantage increases over a few years and can continue for up to 10 years.
Richard Denniss, the executive director at The Australia Institute, believes we do need to put a price on carbon as a means of changing consumptive behaviour, but he doubts a simple emissions trading scheme is the way to go about it. Why? Simply because there's no incentive to go beyond the targets set by the government. As he explains in this edition of BTalk, if an individual, company or government, manages to cut their carbon emissions, under a trading scheme they enable a polluter to undo their good work.
During this week's federal budget speech the Treasurer Wayne Swan promised to return the government coffers into surplus by 2012-13. It shows the fear of government debt echoed by both sides of the house, yet would you runa business like that? If things were going well wouldn't you invest for growth and run debt as part of that process. Why is running the country any different? In this episode of BTalk, Richard Denniss talks about the budget and whether we are missing out on growth opportunities through the fear of running into further debt.
The outcome of this weekend's Australian election seems similar to the hung parliament situation they faced in the UK earlier this year. It looks like a minority party will have to do deals with other members to maintain or win control of the Government. Why is it so close? Well, the answer's obvious. Voters are disillusioned because there has been little engagement in the key strategic issues for the country. Dr. Richard Denniss, Executive Director of The Australia Institute, says this is because the major parties have drip-fed their policies during the course of the campaigns, giving no time for proper analysis and debate.