Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Labor scaremongering over Carer’s Allowance, still no Labor policy

Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson said the Labor Party’s scaremongering over Carers Allowance was causing unnecessary distress for carers.

‘Claims that there was a ‘plot to axe allowances for 35,000 carers of disabled’ as reported in The Australian newspaper this morning are wrong. I want to reassure carers that there is no new review and that they will continue to receive the assistance they deserve,’ said Senator Patterson.

Legislation providing a fairer system for paying carers was passed in 1998 unopposed by the Labor Party. The aim was to ensure that those carers needing assistance received it. All customers were given five years until their eligibility under the new assessment would be reviewed. This review took place last year.

‘As part of that process 67,000 customers on the Carers Allowance were reviewed. About 15,000 people either contacted Centrelink and advised they were no longer eligible or, despite three attempts by Centrelink, failed to respond to the review. Almost 7000 customers continued to receive a health care card.

‘This review was discussed in the Senates Estimates in November 2003. It is clear that Labor is attempting to create a story to cover up its own failures. Australian families have waited 88 days for a families policy from Labor, and they are still waiting.’