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Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Howard Government guarantees the real value of the new $600 per child family payment to be maintained over time

The Howard Government will guarantee that the real value of the $600 per child increase in the rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A is maintained.

The Government guarantees that the real value of the payment will be maintained, consistent with the provisions for existing FTB A payments.

The Government will take whatever action is necessary to deliver on its commitment that families will receive $600 per child and that the real value of this payment is maintained in the future.

We do not accept claims by the Opposition that the increase of $600 per child of FTB would be eroded within five years.

However, we are not prepared to allow the Labor party to misrepresent this issue and try and scaremonger on this very important issue for Australian families.

We will take whatever action – including legislative- to show that the Howard Government is committed to delivering the new payment and ensuring its value is protected over time.

The Government’s position is very clear.

The same cannot be said of Labor.

We now have three stated positions on family payments by Labor.

First. Opposition Leader Mark Latham refused to give Australian families a guarantee that they would be no worse off under Labor.

Secondly, Opposition frontbencher Bob McMullan would not give an undertaking that the Government’s new $600 per child payment would be payable after 2004-05. After that all bets are off.

And finally, today Opposition family spokesman Wayne Swan had a new version. He claimed the Government’s $600 per child increase in the rate of FTB Part A would be ‘built in’ to Labor family policy- which he refused to release.

Who do you believe? Mr Latham, Mr McMullan or Mr Swan? Take your pick.

As always, Labor remains confused and Mr Swan remains a policy free zone.