Stand up and let your voices be heard

Jake-Zanoni Let's not raise the white flag on paid maternity leave, writes Jake Zanoni.

“Do not go quietly into the night, rage, rage, against the dying of the light” – Dylan Thomas.
A few days ago Tony Abbott made a ‘leaders decision’ and without seeking the support of the Coalition Party room, released the Coalitions new parental leave scheme to a response that has ranged from muted support at best and pure outrage at worst.  I made the case in my previous article that this scheme is anathema to libertarian/conservative principles and of itself completely flawed.  Since I made my letter public I have been greeted with a great deal of support and willingness to oppose this scheme and work towards its retraction as Coalition policy.  To be honest, never has my writing been taken so seriously.

Thus I was honestly surprised and disappointed when I saw Tim Andrews on this very site raise the white flag of surrender without even attempting to fight.  Tim Andrews is a man who himself has used his own blog on numerous occasions to inspire campaigns of opposition to Liberal Party policy including Barry O’Farrell’s opposition to school league tables, and Malcolm Turnbull’s support of the ETS.  I have to ask him what is so different about this policy.  Why now must we capitulate and accept a policy that is so fundamentally abhorrent to anyone with conservative/libertarian principles.
Tim has claimed that try as we might, this parental leave scheme is settled Liberal Party policy and that opposition is doomed to failure.  What is so galling about Tim’s assertion is that he offers not a single shred of evidence to back it up.  In fact the evidence is stacked against him.  This is a policy that outflanks the Greens to the left.  It does not have the support of the Party base, major donors, and was not even taken to the Party Room for endorsement.  Tony Abbott himself has said that it is up for consultation.  Why would we not take Tony up on his generous offer?
I count Tim as a friend and I consider his stance out of character, but to be honest it is not out of character for the conservative/libertarian movement in the Liberal Party and in Australia.  For too long we have prostituted ourselves and sold away everything we believed in under the delusion that small government policies cannot win elections.  The great irony is that they cannot win elections simply because we are never willing to stand up and defend them.  Just think what we could achieve if just once we wore our hearts and our minds on our sleeves and actually fought for what we believed in.
Too often the Liberal Party stands for big government, and we yield.  Too often the Liberal Party advocates new spending programs, and we yield.  The size and scope of Government in this country continues to expand and it does so because we do nothing to stop it.  We convince ourselves that we have no hope of victory before we even attempt to fight.
We cannot let this defeatist mindset that has plagued us for too long prevent us from standing up and saying that this policy is not acceptable.  A line must be drawn and we must draw it now.  If you think it is hard to stop this policy now, wait until it is actually law.  I for one refuse to let cowardice doom our country to such a fate.
The time has come to make our voices heard.

Jake Zanoni was the former President of the University of  Canberra Liberal Club, and Deputy-Chair of the Australian Liberal Students' Federation Policy Committee. He blogs at

Letter to Abbott – Opposing Maternity Scheme

Jake Zanoni has penned his thoughts on a Paid Maternity Leave Scheme.

I just sent this email to my Senator (Senator Gary Humphries – ACT) and cc’d Tony Abbott. All those who are opposed to this scheme should likewise contact their Coalition representatives. Hopefully the influx will be enough to galvanise those in the Party Room who disagree with the scheme into preventing it from becoming a reality.

Dear Senator Humphries,

I am emailing you about the Coalition’s Paid Maternity Leave scheme announced today. My fiancee and I plan to have children sometime in the next 5-6 years and as such one could assume we are the demographic of voters that this scheme is designed to appeal to. Despite that however I wish to inform you of my strong opposition to this scheme.

It is true that I have a fundamental philosophical opposition to any form of compulsory maternity leave scheme (and the obligatory paragraph on that is forthcoming), however I believe that this scheme is practically flawed in that the funding aspect does not achieve its ostensible goals.

My understanding is the purpose of the levy on the ‘biggest businesses in Australia’ is so that the larger businesses (read: fat cat capitalist pig dogs) that can ‘afford it’ are the ones who bear the burden, leaving the rest of Australia unfettered.

The first problem with that line of thinking is that it relies on these businesses not simply incorporating the increased cost into their pricing. Economic theory and literature on this topic (looking at increases of the corporate tax, which would have the same economic effect) shows us that in response to this scheme, these businesses will raise prices. As such, it is not the fat cat that will pay for this scheme but the every day Australian individual that purchases the products and services of these businesses, who must now pay more.

In addition, we no longer live in a corporate environment where these large businesses are owned by the one stereotypical tycoon (the Rockefeller’s, Ford’s, and Monty Burns’ of the world). These big businesses are in fact owned by shareholders, many of whom are again the every day non wealthy Australian individual. People like my mother and step father. My friends. My colleagues. Myself. As part owners of these businesses it is us that will pay for this scheme through reduced profits, leading to reduced dividends.

Now to finish off with my obligatory libertarian rhetoric; my fiancee and I are hard working and proud people. We desire to have children and we make that choice understanding the consequences. We do not desire for the Government to initiate force on other individuals, so that our choices may be subsidised. If we are lucky enough to have the skills to negotiate maternity/paternity leave as part of our employment contracts, well we may indeed desire such a condition, however if we are not, we will make alternative arrangements. In addition we will voluntarily assist our fellow community members who fall on hard times, and have children that need care.

I am not unaware of the pain of growing up in a poor household. My father was poor as was my mother. My mother was a single parent from the time I was two to the time I was an adult and we lived through many times of hardship. I am intimately aware of the burden and cost that a child can be. I however refuse to endorse a system that uses force to place that burden on others.

If the Federal Coalition wishes to assist potential parents like my fiancee and myself YOU CAN! Decrease federal taxes. Decrease the size and scope of the federal government. Decrease the burdens of the bureaucracy. Leave us to live our lives as we choose. Fix the vertical fiscal imbalance by providing State Governments with the capacity to raise revenue in accordance with their responsibilities, and the ability to coordinate that revenue without Federal strings. Maintain a fiscal policy that does not provoke unneccessary and damaging monetary policy.

By focusing on the core liberal and conservative principles of small government, low taxes, and individual freedom, you can do far more for people like myself and my fiancee than any compulsory and poorly considered maternity leave scheme.

I hope you will consider my position on this matter as you and the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party go forth.

Yours sincerely,
Jake Zanoni

Jake Zanoni blogs at