Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Labor Locked Into Doom And Gloom Role

It’s a pity in the lead up to Christmas and the Festive Season that Labor is still locked in to its a role as the soothsayer of doom and gloom.

The claim by Wayne Swan that there is “fundamental reordering” of society taking place is yet another example of a negative opposition with no constructive policies to put forward.

In pushing this furphy, Mr Swan is also choosing to ignore the basic everyday things that affect low and middle income earners the most.

The most recent available annual ABS data shows there has been no significant change in inequality between 1994-95 and 1999-2000. In fact, the average income of the lowest 20% of households increased – in real terms – by over 8 per cent between 1996-97 and 1999-2000.

Having someone in the workforce is a key indicator of the wellbeing of any family. With the current unemployment rate at 6%, there’s little wonder why Mr Swan wants to avoid the comparison with the 10.9% unemployment rate peak of his government.

On other measures like interest rates and inflation, low income households are much better off under this government. For instance, under Labor’s 17% housing interest rates, a family with a $100,000 mortgage would be paying over $10,000 a year more in interest than they are now.

The Howard Government is also assisting families with more direct assistance than ever before. The introduction of the Family Tax Benefit system meant that an extra
$2 billion a year has found its way into the pockets of Australian families.

The debate about poverty and income distribution is an important one but it shouldn’t be allowed to be hijacked by an opposition whose only motivation is in pushing their bitter political rhetoric.