Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Howard Government’s record support for families

The Howard Government has supported and strengthened families with a record $19 billion of annual assistance to help families with the cost of raising their children through family payments, child care assistance and maternity and parenting payments, the Minister for Community and Family Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

A single income family earning $40,000 a year with two children (one aged under five years and the other 13-15) is entitled to receive $156.50 a week in family tax payments. They can also receive up to $121 a week in child care and they could be entitled to $55.40 a week in rent assistance.

Senator Patterson rejected Opposition claims that the Government had not helped families.

The Howard Government has:

  • Provided nearly $6000 on average a year in Family Tax Benefit payments to two million Australian families. The Government spends about $2 billion more a year on family assistance than under the previous system. Family Tax Benefit Part B is specifically for families where one parent decides to stay at home.
  • Cut effective marginal tax rates. Families are getting record assistance and are able to keep more of each dollar they earn. The reforms of the family tax benefit arrangements substantially eased the income test for family allowance by increasing the level of income at which benefits begin to be income tested and reducing the rate at which benefits phase out.
  • According to a study by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, only 8% of people faced an effective marginal tax rate of more than 60%. According to the analysis, the vast majority – that is more than seven out of 10 people – faced an effective marginal tax rate of less than 40%. Almost a quarter of all people faced an effective marginal tax rate of zero.
  • Spent more than $8 billion on child care in the past six years – that is more than double Labor’s spending in the last six years of its term. The latest figures show that families receive an average child care benefit payment of more than $2000 a year.
  • In December 2003, announced an extra 10,000 outside school hours care places 2500 family day care places and 4000 new playgroups.
  • Since 1996 the Howard Government has funded an additional 210,000 childcare places, taking the total to around 518,000 places, helping families to balance work and family needs.
  • Delivered an extra $170 million into household budgets with the Baby Bonus. Labor claims that most of this funding goes to higher income families. That is wrong. About 82% of the payments go to people with taxable incomes of $20,000 or less.

Senator Patterson said: “The Child Care Benefit has significantly improved the affordability of childcare, particularly for low-income earners.

“The Howard Government spends $1.6 billion annually on childcare support for families.

“Families can now better balance their work and family commitments. The Howard Government has spent more on child care than any Labor government ever did.

“The Opposition remains strangely silent on the benefits for Australian families from good economic management and strong jobs’ growth,” Senator Patterson said.

“Perhaps it is because the comparisons are none too flattering for the Labor Party. Since 1996 the minimum wage has increased by more than 8%. This is in stark contrast to the period between 1992 and 1996 when Labor was in office when the minimum wage fell by 5%.”