Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Another day, another Swan blooper

Official Department of Family and Community Service figures clearly show that Australian families are about $2 billion a year better off under the Family Tax Benefit (FTB).

Opposition family and community spokesman, Wayne Swan, has tripped himself up once again as he stumbles through his policy-free zone.

He falsely claimed in a national newspaper today that he had figures “proving” that Australian families had not received about an extra $2 billion a year in FTB since the introduction of A New Tax System (ANTS).

Figures provided by my Department in answer to questions from the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee clearly show that the expenditure through the FaCS portfolio on family assistance in 2000-01 increased by around $2 billion compared to the previous year.

Mr Swan, in his attempt to undermine the official figures, has resorted to using a mish-mash of figures plucked from various publications proving his lack of understanding of Government Budgets. Some of the figures he uses are on an accrual basis, others are on a cash basis.

Mr Swan’s effort to disprove the official figures is disingenuous and fails to stand up to rigid scrutiny.

He is comparing apples with oranges. This blunder highlights Labor’s worrying lack of understanding of the FTB system and the Budget.

His work is sloppy. He is mistake prone.

Labor’s “super blooper” would have blown the Budget by $8 billion. Labor sought to explain away its huge mistake by claiming it was a “definitional error”.

Earlier this week, Mr Swan compounded Labor’s “super blooper” with an own goal of his very own.

He falsely claimed there were 17,000 high-income earners incorrectly receiving FTB payments. A FaCS review shows that there were only 81 – not 17,000 – and 50 of those had been identified through normal Centrelink procedures.

Mr Swan’s latest attempt should be seen in the same light.

How can Australian taxpayers trust Mr Swan and Labor to manager the $63 billion FaCS portfolio when he continues to get it so badly wrong?