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Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Labor refuses to guarantee Australian families will not receive less benefits

Opposition Leader Mark Latham refused on two occasions tonight to give Australian families a guarantee that they would not receive less family benefits under Labor than the record payments delivered by the Howard Government.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said Mr Latham refused point blank on the 7.30 Report to give a pledge that families would not receive less family benefits under Labor.

He was asked twice to give a pledge that no family would end up under Labor receiving less family benefit than they will under the Howard Government’s Budget’s $19.2 billion More help for families.

Question: “…(families) would be looking to a pledge from you if you want their vote that no family would actually end up getting less from a Labor government than they are from this Government under this Budget.

Mr Latham:

 

“No I am giving you our pledge and priority and that is to solve problems. And of course we will have the policy out there Kerry well in advance of the election so people can have a look at the detail then.

But I think it is very very important when you have a Budget like this which is all about the short term and it is a policy for the next election for the Labor Party to present an alternative that is actually about problem solving and getting the system right in the first place so you are not having to pay compensation for past problems.

Let’s get it right in the first place and of course when the detail is announced people can see the dollar and cents and make the judgement.

But I just want the Australian people to know that Labor is actually going to be on the job getting this process and policy right and that will have many many benefits that are not necessarily financial.

 

Senator Patterson said Mr Latham’s Budget reply proved he had no plans, no policies and no ideas for families.

“All we are left with is Wayne Swan’s empty rhetoric,” she said.

Opposition family spokesman Mr Swan undertook in March that Labor would be in a position to say “a lot more about the future direction” of its family policy after the Budget.

Senator Patterson said: “Well, we have had the Budget and no one is any the wiser about what Wayne Swan intends to do about family policy.

“Mr Latham’s Budget reply mentioned families near the end of his speech.

“But it was not a case of leaving the best to last. His only contribution was to declare:

‘Families need more assistance and we will provide it in a more effective way’

Senator Patterson said: “We are still waiting Mr Swan.”