Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

102 days – Labor still a policy free zone

Wayne Swan is resorting to distorting the truth and scare mongering to try and cover-up for Mark Latham’s ongoing failure to release a family and tax policy 102 days after it was promised.

Family and Community Services Minister, Senator Kay Patterson today said ‘Mr Swan simply ignores the facts – the reality is that the number of overpayments have fallen by 13% and the $600 increase per child will see a further reduction in overpayments. Mr Swan is simply distorting the truth.

On top of the $600 per child increase, which is payable from 6 September after families lodge their return, families who overestimated their income in 2003-04 will also be entitled to a top-up payment. Labor’s Opposition Family and Community Services spokesman, Wayne Swan, has labeled these top up payments that average over $900 as ‘nonsense’ payments.

‘Under Latham’s secret family policy, top up payments will be abolished; if you accidentally overestimate your income Mr Swan will say bad luck and leave Australian families without the family assistance they deserve.

Mr Latham is deliberately keeping Australians in the dark. Following his budget reply speech, Mark Latham twice refused to guarantee that Australian families would not be worse off under Labor.

Australian families know why Mr Latham is shy about Labor’s secret family policy, because Labor’s Finance spokesman Bob McMullan, let the cat out of the bag when he admitted that the $600 per child increase in FTB would scrap after this financial year.

Under Mr Latham’s secret family policy Australian families eligible for FTB A could be up to $600 per child worse off each and every year.

The strong economic management of the Howard Government has delivered a significant social dividend to families.

Families are significantly better off under the Howard Government with families on average receiving $7,000 a year in FTB payments and around $2,000 in child care benefits.

Mr Latham’s secret family policy will strip Australian families of the benefits and support they receive under the Howard Government.

The Howard Government will continue to manage the system responsibly and ensure that families in similar circumstances are treated the same over the financial year.

Australian families know that the Howard Government delivers on it’s promises, they know they will receive a $600 increase in their FTB payments, they know they will get a $3000 maternity payment. For 102 days Mark Latham has kept Australians in the dark about how much worse off they will be under Labor.