Prime Minister Tony Abbott will today confirm he has dropped his “signature” paid parental leave scheme in favour of a “families package”, as he tries to convince his colleagues he deserves to keep his job.
In the wake of Saturday’s disastrous Queensland election result, Coalition MPs across the country fear they face an electoral wipe-out and some ministers have told the ABC they think the Prime Minister should consider resigning.
In a bid to convince colleagues he is listening, Mr Abbott will use a much-anticipated speech to confirm he has dumped his paid parental leave (PPL) scheme in favour of a “families package” and “a bigger, better PPL scheme is off the table”.
“We sought the advice of the Productivity Commission and I have listened to the feedback from my colleagues and from mums and dads around Australia and they have said that, with our current budget constraints, the better focus now is on childcare if we want higher participation and a stronger economy,” Mr Abbott will tell the National Press Club in Canberra.
The PPL scheme has few supporters inside the Government and some MPs say the decision shows Mr Abbott is finally listening to their concerns.
The new “families package” will be developed in the lead-up to the budget.
“The key focus of this package will be to reform and improve the current confusing system of multiple childcare support payments,” Mr Abbott will say.
“[This will] provide more money in parents’ pockets to help them with their childcare costs when they want to go back to work.”
Most of the Coalition MPs the ABC has spoken to say they are “willing Tony to succeed”.
But a number seem to doubt that the Prime Minister can recover.
One MP said: “How do we get out of this? We need policy and personnel change. Sadly for him I think it’s terminal”.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull are the most likely replacements if there is a leadership spill.
Yesterday, both publicly expressed their support for Mr Abbott.
More Cabinet consultation with backbenchers
A common complaint from the increasingly restless backbench MPs is that the Prime Minister does not ask for, or listen to, their advice before making contentious decisions.
The ABC understands new measures are in place to bolster the cabinet process and backbench consultation.
The full ministry will now meet every month for a strategic discussion, instead of quarterly, all ministers will be required to regularly attend backbench policy committee meetings, the Prime Minister will invite the chairman of all backbench policy meetings to Cabinet six times a year and a new backbench policy advisory group will be set up to work on policy development.
This post originally appeared on the ABC website and has been republished with permission.