Budget 2023: Spending limit thwarts Govt's abilities on paid parental leave

11 May 2023
| By Jasmine Siljic |
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“There's a limit to what we can do in the equity agenda,” said Stephen Jones.

On 9 May, Treasurer Jim Chalmers handed down his second Budget, which forecasted a $4.2 billion surplus in 2022-23. 

Measures aimed to address inflationary pressures, rising energy coast and increasing mortgages were announced.

In a discussion with the Financial Services Council (FSC) today, Minister for Financial Services and Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones recognised why superannuation payments on paid parental leave was left out of the Budget. 

“I encourage everyone to look at the entirety of the budget across the equity agenda,” he explained.

“There’s a limit to how much we can spend. We’ve extended paid parental leave, we’ve got childcare initiatives and there are substantial reforms for single parent payments.”

Jones was under the belief that paid equity was the strongest measure to reduce the gap in super balances between men and women.

He reiterated: “There's a limit to what we can do in the equity agenda”.

When asked about shifting super contributions to be paid with one’s payroll rather than quarterly, the Minister affirmed it had always been a ‘huge issue’.

“The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) estimates there is $3 to $4 billion in unpaid super. Reducing it to $0 should be the objective.”

“It's a lot better for businesses to comply instead of chasing them after the fact. Paying super with salaries would prevent accidental noncompliance,” he added. 

Moreover, Jones noted the extra funding towards the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) was crucial to address greenwashing. 

“ASIC’s capacity to go after the much egregious examples of greenwashing is what they should be absolutely doing.”

Regarding debates whether the fear of greenwashing was leading to ‘greenhushing’, Jones was not sympathetic. 

“There’s nothing new under the existing law. There's nothing new in the obligations that directors have. All ASIC has done is thrown a lens over it.

“We don’t want to see the greenhushing take hold. All the more reason we accelerate the taxonomy.”

The corporate regulator was aware of the issue, he mentioned, but confirmed that their intent was not to tear down the enthusiasm shown towards sustainable investment. 

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