Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Labor scare campaign on Carers Allowance

Labor has resorted to its standard tactic of waging a scare campaign to divert Australians from the truth – the simple fact is this Government’s policy has resulted in the number of carers receiving Carer Allowance tripling from around 100,000 in June 1999 to approximately 300,000 in June 2003.

This clearly shows that the Howard Government’s policy is working and is committed to providing fair and appropriate assistance to Australians when they need it.

As previously announced by Senator Vanstone, Australian carers of dependent children with disabilities that are currently on the Lists of Recognised Disabilities will not require medical review prior to their 16th birthday.

Mr Swan needs to read the Hansard carefully before he issues press releases based on false assumptions.

In line with continually improving the delivery of assistance to those with disabilities, the List of Recognised Disabilities will be reviewed to ensure it is appropriate.

Carers should feel secure that individuals who have a disability on the List of Recognised Disabilities will not be reviewed, only the list of conditions will.

As I said in Question time yesterday,

“I believe the number of children who were reviewed and deemed to be still eligible would indicate that it is highly likely that those conditions will remain on.”

Mr Swan needs to get up to date. The Government test for eligibility for carer allowance has been in place for the past five years. Every new applicant has been assessed by this test.

Australia has a social security system that is the envy of the developed world. The Coalition is committed to strengthening and improving it.

When Labor was in Government and I was the Secretary to the Chair of the Backbench committee I visited an office on Ringwood with Senator Newman. I remember very clearly staff in social security voicing their concerns that people were receiving carer allowance for children whose disabilities were not severe enough to warrant that.

Australians deserve a social security system that is there for them when they need it. A system that helps them maximise their potential to engage in Australian society. The Government believes in this system and we will continue to work to protect it.

I call on the Labor party to cease their scare campaign, carers should not be treated as political fodder.