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The federal government will commit to paid parental leave from January 2011 for those earning less that $150,000 a year, federal Treasurer Wayne Swan says.

Mr Swan, who will hand down his second budget on Tuesday, said the scheme will pay the federal minimum wage for 18 weeks and will be funded by the government, not business.

“This is a very significant reform,” Mr Swan told the Nine Network.

“The scheme must be introduced in a measured and responsible way, particularly taking into account a global recession.”

He said the early years of a child’s life are important for prospects in later life, while the quality of family life is impacted by the quality of work life.

“We have got to get that balance between work and family right, and paid parental leave is an essential reform,” he said.

“We are one of only two countries in the western world that doesn’t have paid parental leave.”

He said the scheme will be of particular benefit to low and middle income earners.

“Where the primary carer’s income is over $150,000 they won’t be eligible,” he said.

“We are very mindful that this significant reform must be progressed in a measured and responsible way.”

http://www.thewest.com.au

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