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Shadow Treasurer describes possible budget measures for female workers as a 'piecemeal approach to cover up that embarrassment'; Democrats Leader wants more childcare places.

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Monday 8 May 2006

Shadow Treasurer describes possible budget measures for female workers as a 'piecemeal approach to cover up that embarrassment'; Democrats Leader wants more childcare places


TONY EASTLEY: After initially playing down the prospect of tax relief, it now seems that the Federal Government is going to deliver a new round of across the board income tax cuts. 


The Government was already due to give some relief to taxpayers earning more than $63,000 from July the 1st this year, but according to this morning's Financial Review , the Prime Minister and Treasurer have just signed off on a new package to deliver relief to those on lower incomes as well. 


In his Budget, to be delivered tomorrow, the Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello is also expected to appeal to families by boosting childcare places, and extending family benefits. 


From Canberra, Gillian Bradford reports. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: Tomorrow night the Coalition will cosy up to the nation's families. It will extend the family tax benefits system and even redefine a large family as one with three or more children. But that sweetener will be worth just $5 a week to those households. 


There'll also be new measures to coax women back into the workforce after they've had children.  


But Labor's Treasury Spokesman Wayne Swan says Peter Costello's pitch to the families won't convince them.  


WAYNE SWAN: We need reform in the system which rewards the hard work of thousands of people in this community who are punished by his incentive-killing tax system. 


He operates one of the most unfriendly tax systems in the world when it comes to female workers. He's acutely embarrassed by it, so what we are now seeing is a piecemeal approach to cover up that embarrassment. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: And it now also appears the Government might've found some room for across the board personal income tax cuts. 


The major newspapers are reporting this morning the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have only just decided to dip into a very healthy surplus and approve a new round of cuts. 


The Government had initially played down any suggestion it would return the money to taxpayers, with economists warning tax cuts could fuel inflation and again push up interest rates. 


Peter Costello will also unveil a childcare package, with more money and more places. He's been under great pressure from parents struggling to find a place and straining to pay for it, and from Coalition backbenchers like Jackie Kelly who called the system a shambles.  


But the Democrats leader Lyn Allison predicts this won't go far enough. 


LYN ALLISON: There are enormous shortages, long waiting lists in childcare, and simply talking about extra places is not going to make a difference to those. 


What we need is a whole suite of changes and a major overhaul to our childcare system. Firstly, we need to introduce paid maternity leave. We would like to see a 14-weeks government-funded leave available at the minimum wage, which might be topped up by employers. I think most families would prefer not to have children, in those first three months of life, in childcare. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: Like the last few, Peter Costello will be hoping this, his 11th budget, will be his last. And he's offering a little bit for everyone. As well as tax cuts and increased family payments, there'll also be significant spending on defence and infrastructure, like roads and rail. And Mr Costello will proclaim that he's prepared a budget that invests for the nation. 


TONY EASTLEY: Gillian Bradford.