Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

More Labor scaremongering, no Labor policy

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, was outraged over Labor’s scaremongering today in the House of Representatives, which will cause unnecessary stress for carers.

‘At the same time as the Government is introducing legislation to help carers, it is an absolute disgrace that Wayne Swan would stand up in the House of Representatives and peddle Labor propaganda which is completely wrong,’ Senator Patterson said.

‘The legislation to improve carers’ access to carers allowance was passed in the House of Representatives today and will bring forward its start date from April next year to September 1, 2004.

‘Around 13,000 carers will benefit from this initiative and I look forward to continuing to implement the other measures in the carers package.

‘Mr Swan’s claims that the Government will renege on the benefits the Howard Government has given to carers by having a secret plan in its bottom drawer is entirely false – the only thing that seems to be hiding in any bottom drawer is Labor’s family policy.

‘ The Howard Government recognises the vital role carers play in our society – and will continue to support them.

‘The Government’s record proves this with carers being provided with direct payments totalling almost $1.8 billion per annum. This is a 135% increase since 1999.

‘Claims by Mr Swan that 30,000 customers were ‘stripped or kicked off’ Carers Allowance are wrong,’ Senator Patterson said.

A fairer system for paying carers was introduced in 1998 ensuring that those carers needing assistance received it.

As part of that process 67,000 customers on the Carers Allowance were reviewed last year. Of those only 2,742 carers of children with a disability did not meet the new assessment criteria for a benefit.

‘Mr Swan should get his facts straight, while the Howard Government will continue to recognise the extraordinary efforts of carers.’