Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Labor’s baby payment black hole

The Opposition Leader, Mark Latham, today failed to guarantee that new mothers would continue to receive the Australian Government’s maternity payment if Labor were elected.

While the Howard Government has introduced a universal maternity payment for all new mothers from July 1, 2004, Labor’s proposed Baby Care Payment would only be paid to nine out of ten women and does not start until July 1, 2005.

If Labor were to win Government the parents of babies born between the election and July 1, 2005 would get nothing.

This blackhole appears to be another example of Mark Latham announcing a policy without knowing the detail or understanding the consequences of his actions.

Labor’s so called women’s policy document raises more questions than it answers. It has no details and no costings and no real solutions, just that they will ‘talk about”, ‘consider” and “review”.

It does not contain a family policy or a tax policy. Once again Labor has failed to guarantee to continue the Howard Government’s ongoing $600 per child increase in the Family Tax Benefit Part A beyond 2005.

It has taken Labor eight years to produce a policy document that does not create one extra real job for Australian women or provide any extra practical assistance for families.

What it does do is use taxpayer’s money to create a slush fund for unions, dismantles the Medicare safety net and imposes a payroll tax on business.

Why would Australian women trust a party who:

  • decimated the Australian economy with 17 % interest rates,
  • allowed female unemployment to reach 10.2%; and
  • over 13 years only delivered 0.5 % increase in women’s real wages.

The Howard Government has delivered real jobs and real choices for Australian women, a female unemployment rate of 5.6 % and real average wage increases of 11.1 % for Australian women.