August 21, 2013
(AP) Australia's opposition leader Tony Abbott is fighting perceptions that he is sexist and has old-fashioned attitudes by proposing a parental leave policy that even his allies say is too generous.
Abbott's conservative coalition is tipped to win elections on Sept. 7 even though he remains unpopular among women voters. But despite Australia's dwindling tax revenue, Abbott on Wednesday defended his plan to spend 5.5 billion Australian dollars ($5 billion) a year on paying mothers to stay home from work.
Mothers with babies would be paid the equivalent of their usual salary of up to AU$150,000 a year to take six months off work.
Australian mothers are currently entitled to AU$622 a week for 18 weeks for maternity leave.