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No double dipping for baby leave: Hockey

Mother’s Day may not have been the best day to announce changes to paid parental leave, but Joe Hockey says new parents will no longer be able to claim from the Commonwealth if their employer is providing a more generous scheme.

While Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Social Services Minister Scott Morrison were spruiking their well-flagged childcare reform package, the treasurer was left to announce the paid parental leave changes, saving nearly $1 billion over four years.

“At the moment people … are effectively double dipping – we are going to stop that,” Hockey told the Nine Network on Sunday.

Opposition families spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said the government ditched its “gold-plated” scheme earlier this year and was confusing and stressing families with its changing positions.

“The one thing that parents know from Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey is that you would never believe anything they say about paid parental leave,” she told reporters in Melbourne.

Early Childhood Australia chief executive Samantha Page said parents weren’t ripping off the system by using both schemes to optimise the time they could have with their new baby.

Meanwhile, the $3.5 billion childcare package that encourages mothers to return to work will be offset by savings tied to legislation still stuck before parliament.

“Unless we offset this new spending it cannot go ahead,” Abbott told reporters in Sydney.

Hockey promised there would be no new taxes in the budget.

While there has been speculation that he will copy the UK’s so-called Google tax, Hockey said he would be enforcing integrity measures to make sure multinationals pay their fair share of tax.

“Where people get unfair advantages we will bring that to an end,” he said.

Hockey described the suggestion that the economy was “staring down the barrel of a recession” as “complete rubbish”.

He said Australia was one of the fastest growing major economies in the world, keeping unemployment below the 6.5 per cent level while facing opportunities in Asia.

He denied this budget was about saving his job, the prime minister’s or the government’s.

“It’s about delivering jobs, growth and better opportunities to every day Australians,” Hockey said.

Respected economist Chris Richardson said, typically, the hard yards were done in the first budget, there’s not much in the second, and the goodies were handed out in the third.

“It’s probably moved beyond the classic mid-term budget … our difficulty, of course, is there will be no goodies to hand out (next year),” Richardson from Deloitte Access Economics told ABC television.


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