Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Evans gets lesson on Family Tax Benefit increase

Labor’s social security spokesman, Senator Chris Evans was today given a lesson on the Howard Government’s decision to bring forward an election commitment to increase Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Part B by $300 per year.

Despite Senator Evans deliberate scaremongering in Senate Estimates this morning, the $150 is additional funding not previously announced, which will provide further assistance for Australian families.

I announced last week that over 1.3 million families will benefit from the early delivery of the Howard Government’s election commitment by bringing forward this payment by six-months to 1 January 2005.

The decision to provide a six-month advance will mean that families receiving FTB Part B will be eligible for a cash bonus of up to $150 from 1 July 2005 after they lodge their tax return. Every year after they will be eligible for the $300 annual increase after they lodge their tax returns.

This increase is costing the Government an extra $209 million, bringing the total cost of the commitment to almost $2 billion.

Senator Evans failed to mention that the election commitment did not provide detail on the exact nature of delivery. However following the positive response I received from parents who received the lump sum payments last year, I decided to also deliver this benefit as a lump sum.

The $150 increase to FTB Part B this financial year is a significant windfall for families and just another example of how the Howard Government is seeking to improve the choices available to families in how they arrange their lives according to their personal circumstances.

Senator Evans political stunt suggesting this $150 is a cut to the election commitment is clearly wrong and yet another embarrassing misinterpretation by Labor.