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Wednesday, 9 February 2005
Page: 118

Senator COONAN (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) (5:12 PM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Adjustment of Certain FTB Child Rates) Bill 2004

The measures contained in this Bill ensure that the real value of fortnightly payments of family tax benefit Part A will be maintained.

Under the legislation before 1 July 2004, the family assistance safety net benchmark was 16.6% of the combined pensioner couple rate for children under 13 and 21.6% of the combined pensioner couple rate for children aged 13-15.

To ensure that the fortnightly payments of FTB Part A are not lower than the safety net benchmark, this Bill includes amendments to maintain wage-linked adjustments to fortnightly rates if the wage-linked adjustments exceed the CPI indexed amounts. Fortnightly payment rates will be adjusted at exactly the same time as they were before the introduction of the FTB Part A supplement.

The real value of the supplement, which is paid as a lump sum once a year, is maintained through indexation to the CPI.

These amendments will deliver on the Government’s commitment to ensure that the real value of FTB is maintained in the future. They maintain the proportional parity of the fortnightly rate with the family assistance safety net benchmark while ensuring the FTB Part A supplement is indexed to the CPI. Through these amendments, the Government is putting beyond any doubt that it is committed to ensuring that the real value of the substantially increased assistance is maintained.

Debate (on motion by Senator Coonan) adjourned.

Ordered that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for a later hour.