Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Key report on Ageing Forecasts New Stable Growth For Australian Families

The effectiveness of the Howard Government’s strong economic management and support for families has been underscored by a major Productivity Commission report forecasting an improved and stable fertility rate for women.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said today “the Productivity Commission’s Economic Implications of An Ageing Australia report addressed an important issue for all Australians and will require policy responses from all levels of government”.

“There are welcome indications that the Howard Government is already on the right track with its strong economic management and unprecedented support for Australian families,” Senator Patterson said.

“I am very encouraged that the Commission report has forecast stability in the total fertility rate at 1.8 babies per woman which is a slightly higher level than the current rate.

“While it is too early to determine whether the Commission’s forecasts are a stable long-term trend, it is still a welcome sign that the decline in the fertility rate may have been arrested and possibly even reversed.

“Initiatives such as the Maternity Payment and increased support to parents and grandparents alike for child care are creating a climate in which Australian families can be confident about their future.

“The Howard Government is providing the economic conditions and assistance to families to improve the choices available to them in the number of children they have and how they balance their work and family responsibilities. Families now receive on average $9500 per year in Family Tax Benefit and Child Care Benefit.

“As the Minister for Family and Community Services, I believe the issues of ageing and fertility rates addressed by the Commission are of fundamental importance to all Australians,” Senator Patterson said.