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Policy theft - government bluster proves the point

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Member for BennelongShadow Minister for Industrial Relations & Manager of Opposition Business in the House 016/94


In Question Time today, the Government displayed its ultra sensitivity to suggestions that it had copied Opposition policies. In the process, Government Ministers succeeded in further proving the point.

The determined attempts of the Prime Minister, the Minister for Social Security and the Minister for Education, Employment and Training in Question Time today to demonstrate that Government policies on training and the new parenting allowance were different from policies and attitudes advocated by the Opposition only served to emphasise the similarities to all who bother to compare them.

Nothing can hide the fact that Labor Ministers villified the Opposition for proposing a training wage at less than the award rate. Those same Labor Ministers now extoll such an approach as integral to the success of the White Paper on unemployment.

The muddled attempts of the Social Security Minister to discredit the concept of income splitting cannot hide the fact that, in straight dollar terms, the new parenting allowance delivers substantially the same benefit to low income, single income families as would income splitting.

Choice is the key ingredient in any fair and just taxation/payments policy for families with dependent children. In announcing the parenting allowance, the Government has garbed this new benefit with the language of choice. In the process, it has adopted much of the rhetoric used by those who advocate income splitting.

As the Government well knows, I have never said income splitting should be open ended. I have always acknowledged the need for a taper or ceiling, to prevent undue enrichment of high income earners. This, incidentally, is a principle utterly violated by the Keating Government with its own child care rebate which delivers benefits to very high income earners.

More importantly, I have never said that income splitting is the only way of delivering effective choice for families.



The principle which I have advocated and which is supported by many in the community is that families with young children should have the economic capacity, if they so wish, for one parent to be at home full time caring for the children.

Significantly - and I welcome this - the Government has acknowledged the validity of this principle for very low income families. No amount of bluster from Ministers can alter this. The more they talk, the more they draw attention to this fact.

CANBERRA 9 May 1994