Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

NATSEM research welcomed as 1.2 million families benefit from $600 per child increase in family payment

Almost 1.2 million families with 2.3 million children have now benefited from the Howard Government’s $600 per child increase in Family Tax Benefit.

This represents an average of $1026 extra for each family. More families will continue to benefit from the $600 per child increase when they lodge their annual tax returns.

Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson said the $600 increase in Family Tax Benefit and the $600 per child one-off bonus paid in June this year have provided real assistance for Australian families.

‘I appreciate ACOSS highlighting the research produced by NATSEM that demonstrates the gains in average real income for Australia’s poorest families.

‘The research clearly shows that the Government’s Family Tax Benefit is working to provide Australian families with the assistance they deserve, with low income families experiencing a real increase of nearly 19% in their incomes, while middle income earners received an 18% rise,’ Senator Patterson said.

The $19.2 billion ‘More Help for Families‘ package announced in the May 2004 Federal Budget was the largest family assistance package ever and provided assistance with the cost of raising children, as well as helping balancing work and family responsibilities.

‘Low income families have benefited the most from Government assistance, which is consistent with the Howard Government’s principle that assistance is targeted to those most in need. On average, families now receive $7000 in Family Tax Benefit. Families also receive an average $2000 in Child Care Benefit and from 1 January will receive a 30% rebate on their out-of-pocket childcare expenses for approved childcare.

‘The report also highlights the significant improvement in unemployment rates from 1997-98 to 2003-04, with ABS data showing a decrease from 8% to 5.8% in the rate of unemployment.

‘The Howard Government has a proud record of economic management delivering the lowest interest rates and lowest inflation in a generation, leading to growth in real wages, employment and productivity.

‘However, there is still more to be achieved. Through our Personal Adviser, Personal Support Programme and the Working Credit Scheme we will continue to assist people into real jobs.’