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Monday, 10 April 2000
Page: 15558


Mr BEAZLEY (2:48 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. It follows a question I asked in this place last Thursday about John and Wendy from his GST advertisement. Prime Minister, isn't it a fact that, if John and Wendy earn respectively $30,000 and $28,000 a year and Wendy decides to take a year off work from December to look after a baby, the family will lose $67 a fortnight in existing parenting payment? Isn't it the case that this family will be up to $63 a fortnight worse off after paying the GST? Prime Minister, given that John and Wendy will be worse off, how can you claim that there are no losers from your GST package?


Mr SPEAKER —I will allow the question to stand, but just before I recognise the Prime Minister I want to make a comment. A similar question was asked last week which I thought ran the risk of in fact being hypothetical and which could have been written so that it would not have been hypothetical, because it was based on the presumption that Wendy was expecting a baby. I want to indicate that I allowed it to stand, but I think it has some hypothetical parts about it that could have been clarified without it specifically referring to John and Wendy.


Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —Your ads will be apparent in a minute, I hope. Wendy is having a baby. After the question was asked by the member for Lilley last week, we had a little bit of an examination made of the matter and I am informed that the claim made by the Leader of the Opposition is wrong. I am acting in bona fide belief that the advice that I have received is correct. The Leader of the Opposition claims that the tax package will take up to $67 a fortnight from thousands of Australian families, of which John and Wendy are a hypothetical example. I am quite happy to treat it as a live example for the purposes of this answer, Mr Speaker. In making the claim that changes to the income test for family assistance will leave many people ineligible for family tax benefit part B, the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Lilley relied on that cameo, claiming that they would be $29.06 a fortnight worse off. I am informed that John and Wendy would actually be $12.78 a fortnight better off under the changes and that, in the following financial year, John and Wendy could be up to $109.50 a fortnight better off. To further reassure Australian families—



Mr HOWARD —Oh, we are now introducing the GST. I have dealt with the erroneous proposition put forward by the Leader of the Opposition, but I say this to all Australian families—to John and Wendy, if they are listening, and to the many others who are contemplating raising families and generally taking advantage of the enhanced family benefits: one of the great features of this tax package is that it provides more options for Australian families, and that is very much what the coalition is all about. But to further reassure Australian families—as it were, to lay reassurance upon reassurance—the Family Assistance Office will establish a review mechanism to enable anybody who thinks they have been financially disadvantaged by the implementation of family tax benefit part B to have their circumstances assessed. The Leader of the Opposition's question is welcome as far as the government is concerned. I can assure John and Wendy they will not be worse off. They will in fact be better off under the measures introduced by the government. My colleague the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Jocelyn Newman, will be making a further statement about this matter today. I thank the Leader of the Opposition.