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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 12002

Family Payments

Mrs WICKS (Robertson) (14:45): My question is to the Minister for Social Services. Will the minister advise the House how the new Families Package is fairer to all Australians? How will this benefit families, particularly in my electorate of Robertson?

Mr PORTER (PearceMinister for Social Services) (14:45): I thank the member for the question. Perhaps I can answer it in summary fashion by saying that the bill placed before the parliament this morning pays for four critical initiatives. First, as the Treasurer has noted, it will pay for the childcare reform package. For the electorate of Robertson that represents 7,580 families. It will pay for measures that make the childcare system simpler, fairer and less inflationary. It will provide most families with $30 more per week. It encourages 240,000 families, including 38,000 jobless families, to work or work more. Indeed, as the Treasurer pointed out, this is the 'somehow' as to how we pay for child care. In fact, I debated with the Treasurer whether we should actually call it the 'somehow bill'. I favoured the 'Social Services Legislation Amendment (the Finding the Way Somehow to Responsibly Pay for Childcare Reform) Bill 2015'. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

I might just take this opportunity, Mr Speaker, through you, to put to the member for Jagajaga that, if the grandparent carer cohort is the primary or only concern that Labor have, let's have a cup of tea about that. It is a very, very small cohort. As you would know, it is about 3,000—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr PORTER: It is a genuine offer. I will shout the cup of tea and we can sit down and talk about that. The second thing that this bill pays for is that all FTB A families will receive $10 more a fortnight. That is, 1.5 million Australian families will receive $10 more a fortnight. Also, all young recipients of DSP and youth allowance will be over $10 a fortnight better off. In the long term it restrains expenditure growth, and so it assists us maintaining and achieving a surplus. It does all of these things. Yes, we are prepared to make a very difficult decision, which is to phase down and, in the end, ultimately remove the Family Tax Benefit end-of-year supplements. That is not going to be a simple thing to do. No doubt it was more popular in 2004 to introduce them than it will now be to phase them out and remove them, but these supplements at the end of the year that come as a lump sum to FTB A and B families were produced in 2004 in Peter Costello's ninth budget when he was predicting a $13 billion surplus. In the years preceding 2004, there had been a very large problem with end-of-year debts. That problem has stabilised. Into the future, we will be able to very dramatically decrease that problem with the single-touch payroll system.

We have a situation where an overwhelming number of families are receiving an end-of-year supplement to pay them to reimburse a debt that they do not have, and we think that money can be better spent—better spent on child care, better spent on the fortnightly cycle for FTB A families, better spent in a way that increases employment across that sector. (Time expired)