Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Families face Medicare safety net cuts to pay for baby care

Families face higher out-of-pocket expenses as Labor winds back the new Medicare safety net to help pay for its proposed baby care payment, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

To help pay for his baby care payment, Opposition Leader Mark Latham announced that he would rip $324 million from Medicare, she said.

These cuts would mean that families would no longer have access to the new lower safety net threshold.

Senator Patterson said: “This is the classic sleight of hand by Labor. They give the baby payment with one hand and wind back families’ access to the new stronger Medicare safety net with the other.

“How does that make families more secure?”

Senator Patterson said Opposition child care spokeswoman Jacinta Collins was in the Senate this morning attacking the Government’s Family Tax Benefit (FTB) system while her leader, Mr Latham, was announcing that FTB would form the basis for eligibility for the new baby care payment.

“While Senator Collins is claiming that the FTB arrangements are flawed, her leader has linked Labor’s policy to the Government’s highly successful FTB system, which has delivered record assistance to Australian families,” she said.

“Labor has lifted this policy from the leaked Work and Family Taskforce report, even the name, ‘Baby Care Payment’, is exactly the same.”

Senator Patterson said Labor was paying for its proposed baby care payment by scrapping its commitment to paid maternity leave – just two months after it adopted such a policy at Labor’s National Conference in January.