THE NEWS WRAP: Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave comments find an unlikely ally

Opposition leader Tony Abbott has provoked a round of controversy over comments the Coalition’s Paid Parental Leave scheme would help “women of calibre to have families”, with an unlikely ally in feminist author Eva Cox coming to his defence.


“If we want women of that calibre to have families, and we should, well we have to give them a fair dinkum chance to do so. That is what this scheme of paid parental leave is all about,” Abbott said.


Abbott’s term “women of calibre” was attacked by Health Minister Tanya Plibersek and Finance Minister Penny Wong, along with prominent feminists including Jenna Price and Anne Summers, while Cox described the situation as an “over-reaction”.


“Who exactly does Mr Abbott think are ‘women of calibre’? What does he think about women who are child care workers, nurses and community sector workers? Are they of lower calibre than women who are law firm partners?” Plibersek said.


“Paid parental leave is a salary-related, work-related payment not a welfare payment. I think that’s what Tony Abbott was trying to say in a somewhat clumsy way… People off with the flu or on holiday are paid at the same rate. Why should a woman having a child be put on the minimum wage?’” Eva Cox said.


Billabong in another trading halt ahead of possible deal announcement


Troubled surfwear giant Billabong is once again in a trading halt ahead of the possible announcement of a deal with private equity firm Sycamore Partners.


In a statement to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Billabong announced “possible transactions affecting the company, including in connection with the bid process announced on January 14”.


Sycamore was due to announce the outcome of its $287 million takeover bid process on April 24 after 10 days exclusive access to the company’s books, but the announcement was delayed after debt partners asked for a further 10 days.


Spectrum auction comes up $1 billion short


The federal government’s auction of analogue television spectrum licences in the 700 MHz and 2.5 GHz bands has come up $1 billion short.


Troubled telco Vodafone failed to place a bid in the auction, while Telstra, Optus and TPG all successfully bid for new licences for a combined total cost of nearly $2 billion.


“15 MHz paired of the 700 MHz spectrum, worth in the order of $1 billion, remains in the Commonwealth’s hands for now, and we intend to return it to the market in the next two or three years,” Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said in a statement.




The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.57% to 15054.90, closing above 15,000 points for the first time ever. The Aussie dollar is down to $US101.92 cents.


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