Industrial Relations Minister Julia Gillard says it is no longer a question of whether Australia should have paid parental leave, but rather how to best provide such a scheme.

But Gillard has refused to say if a parental leave scheme will be part of next year’s budget.

The Productivity Commission recommended 20 weeks of parental leave at the minimum wage of $544 a week to replace the $5000 baby bonus.

Under the scheme, mothers would be able to take 18 weeks paid maternity leave and fathers two weeks, or vice-versa.

Gillard said the report was only a draft, but she agreed with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd it was time to “bite the bullet” after 12 years of neglect in this area.

“Today, we’ve received the draft report of the Productivity Commission,” she told reporters.

“Now we’ve moved from the question of if we have paid parental leave to how to do paid parental leave.”

Gillard said she did not wish to comment on specific recommendations, saying the federal government would offer a response to the final report when handed down in February.

“We will need to consider that advice. We will need to consider any expenditure matters that arise from that advice,” she said.

“We are always very prudent about potential expenditure questions, so that will be dealt with by government.

“We obviously want to make sure that anything that is going to cost government money is dealt with very carefully.”

Families Minister Jenny Macklin said the government would also contribute to the parental leave debate in the coming months.

“We value the choices that parents make,” Macklin said.

“We do understand just how important it is that individual families are able to make the decisions they believe are going to be in the best interests of their family and their children.”