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Howard's BBQ stopper goes stone cold.

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Wayne Swan MP Manager of Opposition Business Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services


John Howard today confirmed that he has gone cold on the ‘barbeque stopper’ of his third term - work and family policy.

The pressures on families were to be a ‘top priority’ for John Howard, but now it is clear he will do nothing in the first two Budgets of his third term.

And today on the Seven Network’s Sunday Sunrise he went a step further, declaring that he didn’t have too much to add so far as family policy was concerned:

Glenn Milne: Work and family package, is that still on the table as well?

John Howard: Well, we never said we were going to have that in this budget. We are still doing quite a lot of work on that. The evidence to date is that we have addressed a lot of the imbalances that did exist. There are always areas where you could do more if you have the capacity and I think it will remain in that category.

It is an extraordinary claim from a Prime Minister who presides over a family payment system that is a debt trap for working parents, and a tax system that claws back the benefits of extra overtime.

And he is content to see Australia one of only two western countries that doesn’t have Paid Maternity Leave for new mothers.

John Howard is attempting to paper over his appalling policy record on families.

Just last week the Treasury delivered a glowing self-assessment on the GST’s impact on families.

But the analysis was a whitewash - specifically excluding those hit hardest by the tax.

With one keystroke the Government thought it could wipe out the poorest 10%, some 700,000 families, from the study.

The rubbery analysis was also propped up by some $600 million in family tax benefit overpayments that the Government has since clawed back.

John Howard’s priorities are in the war room, not in the lounge rooms of Australian families.

ENDS Sunday 06 April 03 Web:

Contact: Wayne Swan on 0418 795 329 Matt Linden on 0407 430 613