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More of the same on family payments mess.



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MORE OF THE SAME ON FAMILY PAYMENTS MESS Asking families to forego much-needed fortnightly payments and pinning hopes on simplified forms will do nothing to fix the Coalition’s flawed family payment system. Reports today suggesting Senator Patterson will blindly rehash the incompetent policies of her failed predecessor shows the Coalition is bereft of ideas to fix its family payment debt trap. Amanda Vanstone announced a ‘Rules Simplification Taskforce’ in February 2001 to simplify ‘complex’ forms - one of her fist acts as Minister. And the Coalition has been encouraging families to short-change themselves on fortnightly benefits for almost three years. Neither approach has been able to significantly reduce the number of families being hit with debts - 671,944 families in 2001-2002. The Coalition just doesn’t get it - struggling families cannot afford to do without significant amounts of fortnightly benefits (up to $123 per fortnight per child!). And simplifying forms will do nothing to address the inflexible annual income test based on future income, which is at the heart of the flawed scheme. If Senator Patterson is serious about improving the system she should reconsider her opposition to Labor’s proposals to: • halt automatic stripping of family tax returns to recoup debts; and, • develop payment methods that more closely track current income rather than future income. Pursuing failed policies of the past will do nothing to improve the situation of families under financial pressure. The Coalition has had more than three years to get its family payment system to work properly - and failed. Families are beginning to realise there would be little point in giving them three more. ENDS Monday 8 Dec 03 Web: www.SwanMP.org Contact: Wayne Swan on 0418 795 329 Matt Linden on 0407 430 613 Wayne Swan MP

Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services