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l. Endeavour Forum Inc. is a women’s pro-life, pro-family national organisation which has special consultative status with the Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. I am the National & Overseas Co-ordinator, I have eight children, 18 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Those of our supporters who are married tend to have larger than average-size families, so they tend to remain out of the paid workforce for longer after marriage, and many are full-time homemakers. Also many of our supporters homeschool their children.

2. Any taxpayer-funded maternity leave should be completely equitable between mothers in the paid workforce and mothers at home. The Draft Inquiry Report recommends 18 weeks paid maternity leave at the adult minimum wage for those mothers in the paid workforce, and the baby bonus, renamed “maternity allowance” for ‘stay-at-home’ mothers. It is not at all clear how the Productivity Commission’s Draft Inquiry Report concludes that employed mothers gain fewer lifetime benefits than mothers at home when many employed mothers including all those in the public service have paid maternity leave and also child care subsidies.

3. The proposed scheme/s in the Draft Inquiry Report involve a lot of churning - administrative and compliance costs such as the costs involved in employers providing the leave and the superannuation entitlements and then being reimbursed by the government. A far more efficient proposal would be through the tax system which is to be reviewed and should include income-splitting and family unit taxation. The entire system of family benefits, child care
subsidies, superannuation and welfare payments needs to be simplified and made more equitable. As this will probably take years, a simple proposal would be to increase the baby bonus to $8000 or $9,000 for all mothers, not means-tested and not taxed, but possibly paid in instalments. This would be costly but consider the savings in eliminating child care subsidies, the Child Care Accreditation Agency, taxation and welfare compliance bureaucrats etc. At the present time the tax and superannuation systems are so complex that most self-employed people need to use tax agents and accountants. Taxpayer-funded maternity leave would add yet another layer of complexity to a tangled web.

4. Taxpayer funded maternity leave should be assessed against the child care subsidies already provided to mothers in the paid workforce. It is a disgrace that ABC Learning Centres’ shareholders made profits at the taxpayers’ expense and now taxpayers (including parents who care for their children and do not use day care) are again being forced to pay to keep these centres open. I understand another child care chain, CFK has also now gone belly-up. It is outrageous that taxpayers’ funds are being used to keep these centres open when taxpayers’ funds are not available for baby-sitting expenses for mothers who do not use day care centres.

5. It is not clear why the Draft Inquiry Report says there should be incentives for mothers of young children to re-enter the paid workforce. The government should be neutral on whether mothers are in paid work or not. There is a major flaw in the GDP accounts which ignores production in the home - this is one reason why the world is in an economic mess because the national accounts are deeply flawed, e.g. if a mother makes her lunch at home, only the ingredients are counted in the GDP, but if she buys the identical lunch (a ham sandwich) at work, both the ingredients and the labour of whoever made the sandwich is included in the
GDP, thus giving a completely false estimate of a country’s GDP. Home production is valuable and is decreased if mothers are “incentivated” to re-enter the paid workforce. While it would be difficult to calculate the value of domestic production, one simple and partial calculation would be an estimate of the cost of providing child care based on the number and ages of the children.

6. The Productivity Commission is to be commended for giving substantial consideration to breastfeeding and the health of babies and their mothers. However, breastfeeding for 18 weeks is not enough. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and continued with other family foods for 2 years, and Australia is falling well below this standard. I have an Honours degree in science: microbiology and chemistry, and I also undertook the training program of La Leche League in the USA, the premier breast-feeding counselling organisation in the world. The Australian Breastfeeding Association, formerly Nursing Mothers Association, derived its inspiration from La Leche League.

7. As I have said, it is not clear why the Draft Report wants to provide incentives for mothers of pre-school children to re-enter the paid workforce. Children are at risk of gastro and respiratory infections in long day care and many mothers who for reasons of financial hardship have to return to paid work, agonise over having to leave their children. Give them a genuine choice by being truly neutral on this issue. It won’t be an economic loss to the country - the ham sandwich can be made at home and is less likely to spread gastro than a commercial one.

8. In the Draft Report it is recommended that in cases of surrogacy both the gestational mother and the social mother should be eligible for paid maternity leave. Does this also mean that the sperm donor father and the social father also qualify for paternity leave? And what about the egg-donor mother? It would be prudent to remember that in our brave new world, a baby can have up to 5 “parents”.

9. Endeavour Forum is in general opposed to “gender equity” in regard to the care of children under two years of age because of the importance of breastfeeding. Any expansion of paternity leave or encouragement to fathers to care for babies while sending the mother back to paid work is to be discouraged as it will inevitably lead to lactation failure. I do not agree with “Suzie” who in her submission quoted in the Draft Inquiry Report claimed she was able to because her husband brought the baby to her place of work twice a day and “it only took 15 minutes”. The age of her baby is not mentioned, but with young babies it takes a lot longer than 15 minutes, and the baby also needs the kissing, cuddling and “smiling/playtime” time with Mum after the feed. This interaction is essential for the mental and emotional development of the baby. A La Leche League principle is that a baby’s need for its mother is as important as its need for food. While 18 weeks paid maternity leave may encourage some mothers to stay home with their babies for a few weeks more, there is also the danger that many mothers will assume that 18 weeks breastfeeding is enough. Australian statistics indicate that most mothers are not breastfeeding or not breastfeeding exclusively beyond three months. Eighteen weeks should not be a “weaning” marker and any substantial extension of paternity leave beyond two weeks, taken out of the maternity leave quota should only be available once the infant is over the age of two.

10. It should be noted that one of the countries that promoted “gender equity” in all things social and political, Iceland, is now completely bankrupt. This may be one consequence of ignoring “domestic production” by mothers in the home and only gloryifying paid work and counting it in the GDP. To balance a budget one needs accurate accounting and there is no accurate accounting if one ignores the labour involved in making that ham sandwich or raising infants at home instead of in day care. This is not, of course, the only reason or even the major reason why Iceland is bankrupt, but it is a contributing factor not only to Iceland’s but to the economic troubles of many of the countries which should be prosperous.

11. As Australia may be entering a period of economic downturn/unemployment, this is not the time to fulfil the feminists’ wish list. Many mothers of young children do not want to be in the paid workforce or to work full time. Give them a choice, and leave available jobs for the lads who have no alternative work such as caring for infants. A thorough rationalising of the tax system/child care subsidies/ family tax benefits is necessary before taxpayer funded maternity leave is implemented. Australia is not better off because of the entry of mothers of young children into the paid workforce. Last century it was possible for a couple to buy a house even though the wife dropped out of the paid
workforce when they had children.The rate of home ownership has declined and many mothers suffer economic coercion to re-enter the paid workforce or to work full-time (instead of part-time) when they would prefer to be caring for their infants. Authorities we would mention are Professor Jay Belsky who originally thought child care was acceptable, but has changed his mind and does not recommend long day care for under-threes, and Steve Biddulph who is also opposed to long day care. Their papers are available on the Internet. Taxpayer funded maternity leave for 18 weeks will only encourage - or worse, coerce - mothers to leave their infants and return to paid work far too soon. Let’s have a baby bonus/maternity allowance for all mothers.

12. Currently women in the public service and also those in some private companies get paid maternity leave and also get the baby bonus. Under the Draft Inquiry Report’s recommendations, these women would lose the baby bonus. Would they find this acceptable?

13. Attached are 3 papers:
(a) “The importance of Mothercare”, which I wrote several years ago. The costings are of course out of date, but the gist of the paper is valid: the evidence is overwhelming that infants are better cared for by their mothers than in long day care.

(b) “Mum’s the first word on obesity”, an article I had published in the Herald Sun, showing the importance of breast-feeding and home-cooking in the battle against obesity.

(c) A paper by our Swedish colleague, Bo C. Petterson, an engineer and an economist and co-ordinator of Barnensratt, the Swedish Association for Children’s Rights. Barnensratt
lobbies from an economic perspective for justice in family taxation and for genuine choice in child care.


Extract from article by Steve Mosher and Colin Mason: Full article at www.pop.org

Although it would be simplistic to blame the current financial crisis on America’s propensity for killing the unborn, it is equally simplistic to pretend, as many do, that the two have absolutely no correlation. Demographic researcher Dennis Howard predicted the long-term economic consequences of abortion in his 1997 book, The Abortion Bomb: America’s Demographic Disaster. He wrote, “I see little hope that we can avoid an eventual crash on Wall Street.....” Howard, whose background is in market research and investigative reporting, has been tracking the effects of institutionalized abortion on the American economy since 1995, and predicted the downturn that we now find ourselves in. “No matter Trillion Elephant in the Living Room, “aggressive ‘population control’ exacts a huge price in future economic growth that can never be recovered. Indeed, it is a loss that reverberates through all future generations. Without an enormous new Baby Boom lasting another 40 or 50 years, that growth is lost forever.”
“We don’t have a debt crisis,” he continued, “we have a death crisis.” According to Howard, a conservative estimate of the GDP lost through abortion adds up to an incredible $35 trillion. If you further take into account the number of babies lost to abortifacient
contraception, the pill, IUDs, RU-486, that number doubles. ...



Member Organisation, World Council for Life and Family

NGO in Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC of the UN