Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

New Shadow Treasurer fails to grasp the reality of the $600 family tax benefit increase

Labor’s new Shadow Treasurer has shown his true colours this afternoon, failing yet again to acknowledge that the $600 increase in Family Tax Benefit is real.

Mr Swan, the architect of Labor’s failed family policy and now responsible for Labor’s economic policies today insisted that the $600 was not real. During a media conference to announce the new Shadow Cabinet, a journalist asked Mr Swan: ‘Is it still your position that those $600, $1200, $1800 cheques going to families aren’t real?’ Mr Swan replied: ‘It is absolutely my position.’

Mr Swan’s failure to grasp the reality is alarming, given his new economic position within his party.

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. The $600 will be indexed and its real value will be maintained in the future.

ACOSS recently endorsed the Howard Government’s increased family assistance payments with independent research conducted by NATSEM demonstrating the gains in average real income for low income 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.

The Howard Government has a proud record of economic management that has helped to deliver these social dividends to families.

Mr Swan today still claimed all families would be better off fortnightly under his policy, but again failed to explain why these same families would be worse off at the end of the year. Mr Swan’s election policy used sham tables that showed weekly benefits when families in fact were hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars worse off over the course of the year.

If Mr Swan fails to understand his own tables and the fact that the $600 is real, how can he ever be trusted to run an $800 billion economy?