UNDER a Coalition proposal, women eligible for paid maternity leave will receive half of their current salary - or six months at the national minimum wage - plus super contributions, from July 1, 2015.
The scheme would be one of the most generous among the OECD countries and has drawn criticism as "middle- class welfare" for allowing women earning $150,000 to pocket $75,000 over six months.
Under the Labor government, Australia has some of the lowest-paid maternity leave conditions of all OECD countries, with 18 weeks paid at the minimum wage.
The Child Health Association of Tasmania, which supports families, is a cautious supporter of the Coalition's proposal. Vice-president Rebecca Crawford said the issue of paid parental leave often arose among the association's members, who were juggling financial and family pressures around returning to work.
"From that perspective, we are supportive of any initiative that offers families more choices, and this proposal would do that," she said.
"But as an organisation that is focused on need, we question the equity of a 100 per cent wage (as paid parental leave), rather than a flat rate or means-tested amount."
Ensuring access to quality and affordable childcare and providing more flexible work options for families were more important, she said.
University of Tasmania sociology senior lecturer Kristin Natalier said the proposal was exciting and very generous for high-earning women, but had a short-term focus instead of looking at issues around gender equity and how women engaged with the workforce.
Dr Natalier said the scheme helped normalise women taking time out from paid employment to have and raise children, by treating it the same way as annual or sick leave and accruing superannuation.
However, it was less clear how the policy would drive women's engagement with paid work, she said.
"Unless paid parental leave becomes matched up with a broader approach to families and working, it's not making it any easier," Dr Natalier said. "Good parenting isn't about how much money you earn, good parenting is about a set of skills across all income levels."
Australia was still engaged in "mummy wars" in terms of a cultural dialogue about whether women should work or stay home with their kids, she said.
"These aren't just private decisions about having babies and what to do with them," Dr Natalier said. "It has massive implications for the rest of society."