Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

New legislation to deliver on Howard Government election commitments

The Howard Government will introduce legislation tomorrow to continue to deliver on its election commitments and ensure that the value of Family Tax Benefit (FTB) is maintained in real terms into the future.

‘I have already acted to waive the work, training and study test for access to Child Care Benefit for grandparents who are the primary carers of their grandchildren. The Bills to be introduced tomorrow continue to deliver on our election promises,’ said Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson.

The 2004 election commitments Bill contains provisions for:

  • a new utilities allowance for aged or veteran pensioners – $100 a year for singles and $50 for each member of a couple,
  • a $200 seniors concession allowance for self-funded retirees,
  • improving opportunities and flexibility for carers by increasing the number of hours they may spend in work, training or study, without losing qualification for carer payment,
  • further amendments to provide grandparents on income support, who are the primary carers for their grandchildren, with a special rate of child care benefit,
  • increased bereavement payments in respect of people receiving above the general rate disability pension.

‘The Howard Government is keen to see these measures passed as soon as possible to ensure older Australians continue to receive the assistance they deserve,’ said Senator Patterson.

‘I am also pleased to deliver on the commitment I made earlier in the year to introduce legislation to 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. Despite Labor’s scaremongering this legislation is being introduced before it is due to have any impact.

‘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,’ Senator Patterson said.