Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Swanning around but still no idea

Wayne Swan just doesn’t get it.

Everyone understands that in the tax system (based on annual taxable income) there will be refunds and debts for many, so in the new family system we will have top-ups and overpayments.

Just when will Wayne catch on?

The Government has implemented major reforms to family payments so that families with the same annual income receive exactly the same entitlement regardless of how they claim.

The new system reduced the labyrinth of twelve family payments to just three and paid an extra $2 billion into the pockets of Australian families.

These reforms mean that some families who take their payments fortnightly will have top-ups at the end of the year, and some families will have overpayments.

However, for the record:

  • Most overpayments are very small. In fact – for FTB and CCB – one half are under $300 and more than three quarters are under $1,000, meaning most families will not have to repay anything after the Governments $1,000 first year waiver.
  • The top-ups are significant. For FTB and CCB payments, one quarter are more than $7,000 and one half are more than $4,000.
  • This year’s reconciliation has resulted in nearly $200 million in top-ups. This is more than the overpayments that were identified after the waiver.

Wayne Swan wants to go back to a world where families cannot choose how they get their assistance, and where families are not topped-up if they over-estimate their income.

The task for the ALP over the next three years will be to become a constructive opposition that doesn’t try to beat up negative campaigns out of nothing.