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Thursday, 18 August 2011
Page: 8603

Parenting Payments

Mrs D'ATH (Petrie) (15:00): My question is to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. How is the government supporting Australian families with a new baby, what risks have there been to this support and how is the government addressing these?

Ms MACKLIN (JagajagaMinister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) (15:00): I thank the member for Petrie for her question. As she knows, this Labor government is serious about helping families to support their family budgets. Also, most importantly, we have made sure we give newborn babies in families the best start in life by delivering Australia's first Paid Parental Leave scheme. It was, of course, this Labor government that made sure that families, when they have a new baby coming into their home, can now get financial support to have a parent—a mum or a dad—stay at home with their newborn baby. I can let the House know that, since the scheme was introduced on 1 January this year, we have had 85,000 Australian families claim under the scheme—85,000 Australian families who have benefited. Right now we have more than 33,000 Australian families currently benefiting from our Paid Parental Leave scheme.

Of course, as those babies grow up, it is this Labor government that has improved support to the families where those babies are getting the benefits. They are getting the benefits of the extra childcare benefit and the childcare tax rebate that is now at 50 per cent compared to the lower figure that existed under the opposition. Of course, we have introduced the education tax refund, which is also delivering to parents to help with the costs of their children's education. Very importantly—and this was never delivered by those opposite—we are making sure that, for those families that have older teenagers, from 1 January next year we will deliver much-needed additional assistance to those families. We will see around 650,000 teenagers who are staying at school getting extra support for their parents over the next five years. All of this demonstrates that this government is very serious about supporting families.

Of course, families know that the biggest risk to their budgets comes in the shape of this Leader of the Opposition. They know that this Leader of the Opposition went out with a thought bubble of a policy a couple of years ago—his paid parental leave policy, which was described by Heather Ridout as 'the sort of policy you have when you're not serious about having a policy'. That is exactly what this Leader of the Opposition is saying to families. He is saying to families that he intends to take $70 billion out of the budget. That is equivalent to 3½ years worth of family payments. That is what $70 billion is worth, and that is why Australian families have a lot to fear from this Leader of the Opposition.