Monday, August 19, 2013

Mostly false. An average female earner $21,000 better off

"If you are a mother on average earnings you will be $21,000 better off under this policy."

Tony Abbott, Sunday August 18 2013

Tony Abbott says mothers on average earnings will be $21,000 better off under the Coalition.

He is comparing his paid parental leave policy which replaces actual wages (and super contributions) for six months with Labor’s which pays out only at the minimum wage, and only for three months.

But is the difference really as much as $21,000?

Supporting evidence

Abbott’s background papers show how he arrived at the figure. They say the average salary for women who work full-time is $65,000, which is exactly the figure reported by the Bureau of Statistics. If they get six months of that while on leave they will receive $32,500 plus super. Labor will give them around $11,200. The difference is $21,300.

Does it stack up?

Most working women work fewer than 35 hours per week. Roughly half work fewer than 30 hours per week. They take home much less than the average full-time wage. The same ABS document quoted by the Coalition arrives at a much lower figure for average female earnings (incorporating both part time and full-time workers). The average is $44,200 per year.

A mother on that much would get $22,000 plus super under the Coalition’s policy, well short of the $32,500 quoted. She would be nothing like $21,000 better off than under Labor.

And there’s something else. Most women don’t get average earnings. The average is an artifact, pushed up by a few exceptionally high earners at the top (for whom the scheme is capped when earnings hit $150,000). A typical female worker gets 12 per cent less than the average, meaning the Coalition is offering a typical female on maternity leave $19,320 plus super, not that much more than is Labor.

However, there is a saving grace. Abbott’s scheme won’t start for almost two years, until July 2015. By then female wages will be much higher.


The Coalition's paid parental leave policy offers more than Labor’s, particularly for higher earners. But the gains for a typical women are not as big as Abbott suggests.

A Politifact rating of ''mostly false'' applies where a statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.

Politifact finds Mr Abbott’s claim that “a mother on average earnings” will be $21,000 better off under his scheme mostly false.

In Politifact and The Sydney Morning Herald

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