Calm down dears: we may have been rorting but at least we’re not rorters! | Kristina Keneally

Wives of Australia: the government is on to us!Scheming, rorting, defrauding the taxpayer – it seems likely that our days of scamming a ticket to board the lucrative government gravy train are numbered.

I am still flabbergasted they’ve cottoned on to our double dipping ways. I was certain we were home and hosed once Tony Abbott enshrined the idea of two paid parental leave schemes – one government funded, one funded by employers – into his own “signature policy”.

But was Tony merely acting like most of our husbands and putting his signature to any old piece of paper shoved in front of him without looking at the detail? How else to explain the abrupt shift in policy? And how is it that Joe Hockey and all the other guys sitting around the big table in the cabinet room have finally worked out that we’ve been deceiving our husbands, sneaking around during the day and filling out government forms behind their backs?

At least that’s how the treasurer explained assistant treasurer Josh Frydenberg and finance minister Mathias Cormann getting caught up in Leavegate as the unwitting recipients of not one – but two! – paid parental leave schemes: clearly they’ve been kept in the dark by the missus.

Sister wives, the game is up. But we played it well. I fondly recall the days when my kids were babies. I remember that little conspiratorial thrill I got when sitting down during Playschool in order to fill out the Family Tax Benefit Part B forms before the man of the house walked in from his hard day at work. Like most wives, sometimes I wouldn’t quite get the forms finished and would hide them away at the bottom of the ironing basket (because, seriously, what man is ever going to look in there?).

I’ve got to grudgingly admit: Hockey nailed it in this budget. Mothers with access to pens and paper and a willingness to deceive husbands clearly pose a serious threat to the Abbott government’s otherwise completely credible “path to surplus”.

Stopping greedy mothers is not only good for the budget, but it probably has benefits for the nation. If we mums can work out how to get government funds that have been specifically allocated to us, who knows what other clever tricks we might get up to? Today it’s paid parental leave, tomorrow we might be demanding equal pay or working out how to get ourselves elected to parliament.

To be fair, a shout out to one government minister in particular, Scott Morrison, is deserved. It seems Morrison still holds a healthy respect for the cunning ways of women, which is understandable given that Julie Bishop must make him more than a little nervous about his chances of clawing his way to the top job. ScoMo has been at pains to point out that he never actually called the new mothers of Australia “rorters”.

“I have used that word ‘rort’ in relation to the scheme itself, not in relation to those using it,” he says.

It’s a fine distinction that stretches the normal conventions of language but you’ve got to admire Morrison’s manipulation of language. Think about it: people who use shops are called shoppers, people who commit crimes are called criminals, people who attend church are known as church-goers, people who seek asylum are called … illegal arrivals, and we may have used a rort but this does not make us rorters.

Given that we’ve gotten away defrauding the taxpayer for so long, we may as well wear Morrison’s distinction as a badge of pride.

Thanks ScoMo, we may no longer have anything resembling a decent paid parental leave scheme, but we feel better already.

Source: Calm down dears: we may have been rorting but at least we’re not rorters! | Kristina Keneally | Comment is free | The Guardian

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