Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Families’ $90-a-week payment missed by ACOSS

An ACOSS report into the cost of care for babies and young children has failed to include Government assistance to Australian families of an average of $4600 a year, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

She called on ACOSS to include Family Tax Benefit Part A payments of over $8 billion a year, which assisted families with an average of $90 a week towards the cost of raising their children.

Senator Patterson said: “I ask ACOSS to redo its figures to ensure that a complete and accurate picture is given of the family assistance given to Australian families.

“This Government has provided record assistance to families, but I don’t think taxpayers would expect that they should pay every family for every cost of raising their children.”

Senator Patterson said that the best way to assist families with the cost of raising children is to provide them with jobs. Under the Howard Government, more full-time jobs were created in the past 6 months than in the last 6 years of the previous Labor Government.

The Howard Government spends about $2 billion a year more on family assistance than under the previous tax system. Around two million Australian families receive nearly $6000 a year in Family Tax Benefit payments.

Senator Patterson said: “The latest figures show that families receive an average child care benefit payment of more than $2000 a year. The Government has greatly improved access to childcare by providing an extra 210,000 Commonwealth-funded places since 1996.

“ABS figures show that for 38% of families the net cost of child care after Government subsidies is less than $20 per week.”

As an example of the record assistance, a single income family earning $40,000 a year with two children (one aged under five years and the other 13-15) is entitled to receive $156.50 a week in family tax payments. They can also receive up to $121 a week in child care and they could be entitled to $55.40 a week in rent assistance.