Abbott spells out limits to economic 'shopping list'

TONY ABBOTT has put his foot down over his paid parental leave policy, saying it was an ''absolute signature policy'' which will be ''one of the defining marks of my leadership of the Coalition''.

TONY ABBOTT has put his foot down over his paid parental leave policy, saying it was an ''absolute signature policy'' which will be ''one of the defining marks of my leadership of the Coalition''.

TONY ABBOTT has put his foot down over his paid parental leave policy, saying it was an ''absolute signature policy'' which will be ''one of the defining marks of my leadership of the Coalition''.

Recommitting to the policy he announced on International Women's Day two years ago, the Opposition Leader sought yesterday to stamp out calls, both internal and external, that he shelve the $3.3 billion scheme.

''It's a sign that the Coalition gets it when it comes to the modern Australian woman,'' he said.

Mr Abbott will reinforce that commitment in a key economic speech today, but he will also send the message that the parental leave policy, along with a few others, will be the limit of new spending promises by him.

''In many portfolios, the Coalition's pitch to voters will rest more on less regulation than on more spending,'' he will say.

The parental leave policy will be funded by a 1.5 percentage point increase in company tax for the nation's most profitable 3200 companies and will pay a woman her full wage for six months when she takes parental leave. The payout will be capped at salaries of $150,000, meaning a woman can receive a maximum $75,000 for taking six months' leave.

The Coalition is claiming to be a better economic manager than Labor and is promising to tax and spend less.

In his speech today, Mr Abbott will portray his promise to abolish the price on carbon as a tax cut.

''Eliminating the carbon tax is a fundamental structural reform as well as a massive tax cut, especially when coupled with lower personal taxes,'' the Opposition Leader's speech notes say.

The paid parental leave scheme has raised concerns among Liberals, given it represents a tax rise on business and there are views the money could be better spent elsewhere.

Mr Abbott has also promised to increase the indexation of military pensions, which will cost the budget $1.7 billion over four years, and increase the Commonwealth's unfunded superannuation liability by $6.2 billion.

This promise, too, is concerning economic Dries in the Coalition, who say it flies in the face of the message of restraint.

In his speech today, Mr Abbott will acknowledge those concerns and promise that these policies, plus some incentives to decrease welfare dependence, will be exceptions.

''Besides these signature policies and a very few hyper-deserving cases like military superannuants, the Coalition will promise very little new or increased spending at the next election,'' he will say.

''The absence of a shopping list of new spending should help to keep the focus on the big issues, especially the carbon tax which will swing like a wrecking ball through the Australian economy.''

The Coalition is also refusing to guarantee support for industries which are becoming unsustainable in the modern economy.

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