Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Labor Caught Out Again With Wrong Figures

A review of higher-income earners receiving Family Tax Benefit payments has found only 81 were not eligible out of a total of 860,000 Australian families receiving family assistance and some form of income support, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

She rejected the misleading claims of Opposition family and community services spokesman, Wayne Swan, who said “there were 17,000 high-wealth individuals receiving family payments – payments they were not entitled to”. (Swan doorstop transcript, March 24).

Senator Patterson said: “These 81 customers are a very small number of the 859,397 FTB customers who received assistance in 2001-02. Mr Swan is wrong. In fact he got it wrong by 16,919 people!

“Of the 81 who were not entitled to FTB, 50 had been previously detected as part of Centrelink’s normal compliance control measures.”

Senator Patterson said since 2001-02 Centrelink has introduced a number of new compliance measures to assist in detecting non-eligible recipients of FTB.

Senator Patterson said in the Senate last October that Mr Swan was wrong to claim that 17,000 high-income earners were incorrectly receiving FTB.

“Mr Swan has been caught out yet again misleading the Australian public. Mr Swan and the Labor Party have trouble getting their figures correct,” she said.

“This is another example of Labor’s sloppy work. Labor fails to do its policy homework and has a reckless disregard for getting things right. It follows on from Labor’s ‘super blooper’, which would have blown the Budget by $8 billion.”

Senator Patterson said it was time for Mr Swan to be held accountable for his misleading and false claims.

The Government has clawed back $1.5 billion from family assistance. WRONG!

Families receive nearly $2 billion more every year than under the previous system with families receiving $6000 a year on average in family assistance. The family assistance program is uncapped and families receive their payment if they qualify for assistance.

Families pay an Effective Marginal Tax Rate (EMTR) on every additional dollar earned. WRONG!

An Effective Marginal Tax Rate indicates the rate of tax payable over one additional not every dollar earned.

According to modelling by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) seven out of 10 Australians face an effective marginal tax rate of less than 40%. Only 8% of people face an effective marginal tax rate of more than 60%.