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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 537

Pensions and Benefits


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:31): My question is to the Prime Minister. Is the Prime Minister aware that almost three million children are in families that receive family tax benefit part A? Prime Minister, how many of these three million children are in families that will have their payments cut?


Mr PORTER (PearceMinister for Social Services) (14:32): I thank the member opposite for his question. As mentioned earlier, there are about 1.5 million families that we could describe as family tax benefit families in the system. The question has been asked about some numbers, so I will give you some numbers: of those 1.5 million families, 720,000 have children of childcare age—between zero and five years. Of those 1.5 million families, 480,000 have children of after-school care age—aged six to 12 years. All of those families with children of those ages stand to benefit from generation-changing childcare reform—that is 720,000 out of 1.5 million; and 420,000 out of 1.5 million. We will get on to the Leader of the Opposition's number, so let me tell you this: there are one million children of long day care age, between zero to five years, inside the family tax benefit system. There are 1.2 million children of after-school care age, between six to 12 years, and the families of those children all stand to benefit from reform to child care.

Let me give you a few examples of how that reform might work: earlier on we heard about Kelly, whose youngest child was aged seven. If, for instance, you had two children aged six and over and were earning a low income of about $50,000, you would stand to benefit $239 a year, because you could access the reforms to child care that we have put on the table. What is fascinating is that we have devised a system where we can find appropriate savings inside the family tax benefit system and reinvest almost all of those into generational reform to child care. Members opposite also made some savings inside the family assistance system, you might realise. In fact, they made $23 billion worth of savings, and so—

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition on a point of order.

Mr Shorten: My point of order is on relevance. There was no preamble. I asked one simple question: how many of these three million children are in families that will have their payments cut? The minister is talking about children who are not affected by their cuts. We just want him to the answer to one question: how many children are in families that are going to get a cut in family payments?

Mr PORTER: As I was noting, we have invested all of the money that we are saving from the family tax benefit system. The fact is that members opposite also made some savings. They made $23 billion—

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat for a second. It was a very specific question and the minister, in the early part of his answer, was very specific with some figures. I have to say to the Leader of the Opposition that at that point I deemed him relevant. Whilst members asking questions would like them answered in a particular way, he was answering them with figures that might have required you to do some calculations. The minister is now moving to a more general area, and I would ask him to either come back to the specifics or seek to wind his answer up.

Mr PORTER: There are 720,000 families out of 1.5 million who will benefit—net benefit. There are 480,000 families with children who are of long day care age who can also benefit. All of those families stand to benefit from childcare reforms that we have on the table, and what reforms have been offered by those opposite? Nothing. How much of that $23 billion worth of savings did they reinvest into child care? Zero.