Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Labor called on to guarantee $800 family top-up payments

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, has called on the Labor Party to guarantee top-up payments, which deliver around $800 a year to more than half a million families.

Senator Patterson rejected Labor family and community spokesman Wayne Swan’s false claims that the Family Tax Benefit, which delivers an average $6000 a year to two million families, had short-changed families.

“Under Labor’s rules, if a family estimated their income incorrectly and did not get their full entitlement for family payments it was too bad. The family had to wear it and they lost out.

“Mr Swan’s Labor Party was the only one responsible for short-changing people.

“Labor denied top-up payments to Australian families. The Howard Government has restored fairness to the system, paying an average top-up of around $800 to these families.

“I call on Labor to now guarantee these payments.

“Unfortunately for Australian families Labor’s record is not good.

“Under Labor, no Australian family got a top-up payment if they overestimated their income and now Labor has blocked legislation in the Senate that would allow people to claim these top-ups payments for previous years.”

Senator Patterson said the Australian Government had significantly reduced effective marginal tax rates when it introduced the new tax system.

A study by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) found that only 8% of people faced an effective marginal tax rate on an extra dollar earned of more than 60%.

“In fact, according to NATSEM, seven out of 10 taxpayers or 7.8 million taxpayers face an effective marginal tax rate on an extra dollar earned of less than 40%.”

Senator Patterson said Mr Swan continues to peddle the false assertion that families had been denied FTB payments because money had been “clawed back”.

“No family eligible for the FTB has been denied payment because of changes in Budget estimates of the cost of the program,” she said.

“Families get their entitlement based on their family income and the age and number of their children.

“The FTB is uncapped and if families meet the income test they are eligible for payment regardless of any Budget estimation of the program.”