Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Mr Swan Wrong Again – Child Care Benefit is Assisting Low Income Families

Low income families using child care should not be concerned by media reports and comments by Mr Swan that they risk incurring large debts under the new Child Care Benefit scheme, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Amanda Vanstone said today.

“Todays reports are sensationalist and misleading,” Senator Vanstone said.

“The suggestion that many low income families might face overpayments of $1000 or $2000 is ridiculous. To incur an overpayment of $1000 a typical family (1 child using 25 hours per week child care) would have to have understated their income by $18,000 per annum.

“Equally, the same family would need to have underestimated their income by $36,000 to have a $2000 overpayment.

“Low income families have been the big winners under the new scheme. Mr Swan’s comments to the contrary are self-serving in the extreme and serve no purpose but to scare low income families away from a scheme that can greatly assist them.

“Mr Beazley hasn’t got the guts to pull Mr Swan into line. How can the supposed alternative Prime Minister continually allow his Shadow Minister to consistently mislead the Australian public?

“Mr Swan couldn’t give a single detailed answer about policy to Laurie Oakes on Sunday. To hide his inadequate performance he is now trying to use scare tactics.

“The new Family Tax Benefit and Child Care Benefit schemes are designed to provide Australian families with the correct amount of financial assistance that they entitled, no more no less. This is a common sense approach and much fairer than Labor’s old scheme that involved two different payments from two different offices and was often based on income details more than 18 months old.

“Because the new scheme is based on an assessment of total annual income it is not necessary to advise of every fluctuation in income. However, it is important to let the Family Assistance Office know of changes that are likely to have a significant effect on a family’s total income for the financial year.”