Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Value of Family Tax Benefit will be maintained

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today announced that an amendment to legislation will be introduced to ensure that the value of Family Tax Benefit (FTB) is maintained in real terms into the future.’This amendment will correct the legislation passed after the Budget, which unintentionally delayed the year in which the existing safety net benchmark provisions would have come into effect.

‘The amendment to be introduced in the Spring Sittings will ensure that fortnightly payments of FTB Part A will be indexed by either the CPI or a percentage of the combined pensioner couple rate (known as the safety net benchmark provisions) – whichever is greater,’ Senator Patterson said.

‘This amendment will ensure that there is no delay in the benefits of high growth in real wages delivered by the Howard Government being passed onto families in the form of higher FTB payments.

‘On top of this, the Howard Government committed in the Budget to provide an additional, ongoing supplement of $600 per child indexed each year in line with increases in the CPI.

‘Labor’s claim that ‘the $600 would evaporate within five to seven years’ is wrong because $600 per child is indexed by CPI and then added to the existing FTB payment.

‘It is time for the Labor Party to admit they cried wolf to cover up for the fact that they have not guaranteed the Government’s $600 per child payment beyond this financial year.

‘Labor’s scaremongering fails to hide the fact that Labor does not have a family policy – at least not one they are willing to share with the Australian people.

‘The ongoing $600 per child increase in the rate of FTB part A was only possible due to the strong economic and financial management of the Howard Government which allowed us to provide a ‘social dividend’ to these families, who are already putting the money to good use. On average families now receive $7000 each year in FTB.

‘Australian families can be assured that the Howard Government will maintain the real value of the FTB,’ Senator Patterson said.