Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Welcome back Wayne

The Australian Government is committed to the simplification of the claim forms for the Family Tax Benefit, which delivers an average $6000 a year to a family, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

“I have undertaken to ensure that the forms giving families options to receive their payments are streamlined and simplified,” she said.

“I have looked carefully at the forms and they are complicated and do not present families with clear options.

“I want to ensure that Australian families are best able to manage the record benefits they are receiving from the Howard Government in family support.”

Senator Patterson said families were getting $2 billion a year more from FTB payments under the Coalition than they did under Labor.

“The Opposition spokesman Wayne Swan is being frequently mischievous on this issue. He forgets to tell Australians that under Labor they did not get a top-up payment if they overestimated their incomes.

“Under Labor 26% of families who now receive a top-up payment were denied an average top-up of $885.”

Senator Patterson said it was important to put the issue in perspective. Two-thirds of the more than 2 million Australian families receiving a record $10.5 billion a year in FTB payments had their payments reconciled with their tax return or they received a top-up payment.

“I am determined to help the one-third of recipients getting FTB who experience an overpayment,” she said.

“I recognised this and I am working to simplify the claim forms and make them more user friendly in explaining the choices available to families.

“I want to reduce the likelihood of families receiving an overpayment.”

Senator Patterson said it was fair and reasonable to require Australian families receiving the FTB payments to get the same amount if they were in similar circumstances.

She was surprised that Mr Swan had re-entered the public debate on issues that mattered after disappearing from public view for several weeks while he tried to engineer Mr Beazley’s unsuccessful tilt at the ALP leadership.