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Wednesday, 10 May 2000
Page: 16182

Mr BEAZLEY (3:00 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Do you recall the case of John and Wendy from the GST advertisements who, under the new family tax benefit income test, will lose $67 a fortnight in the partnered parenting payment if one of them stops work to care for their children? Do you recall your promise of a Family Assistance Office review mechanism to address this problem and your words in this place on 10 April that:

I can assure John and Wendy they will not be worse off

Why, then, Prime Minister, in last night's budget was $15 million allocated to `assess inquiries regarding this scheme' but no money allocated to actually compensate those worse off? Why have you funded an exercise to discover whether John and Wendy are worse off but you have not allocated any funds to actually compensate them?

Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —The budget last night introduced the Family Assistance Office review mechanism, following the announcement of 10 April 2000 of the broad parameters of the scheme, to enable people to claim a top-up payment. The expenses that are put out there are of the order of $15 million. The reason why it is a scheme of limited duration is that the example, as I recall, that the Leader of the Opposition relies upon requires somebody to actually resign from the workforce during the course of the year. The reason for that is that the test which applies in relation to family assistance—in relation to that one payment and that one payment only—is currently a fortnightly test, and as we harmonise all of the tests it goes to a yearly test. So you have to actually try to find somebody who would have been able to have a big drop in income for a particular fortnight but had a large income over the course of the year and find out why it was a rare occasion and a transitional occasion because, at the end of the year, the year clicks over and that person is still out of the workforce and under the yearly income test does not have the disqualification that comes about. As a consequence, it is a one-off transitional for a part-year only. That is why the compensation is of the order it is and the budget papers make full provision for it.