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Record births welcomed.

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Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released today show that the number of births in Australia in 2005 was the highest recorded since 1992. For the year ended 31 December 2005, there were 261,400 births, a 2.4% increase on 2004.

The Government has identified the ageing of our population and falling fertility rates as a long-term issue for Australia.

In recent years family-friendly policies introduced by the government include:-

• The introduction of a baby bonus in July 2004;

• Substantial increases in the rates of family benefits;

• The provision of extra childcare places;

• The encouragement of flexible family-friendly work practices

The number of births also reflects a growing level of confidence in Australia’s future, the fact that families have been experiencing a high level of economic security under the Coalition government.

In the May 2004 Budget I encouraged people to have “One for mum, one for dad, and one for the country”. It was a light-hearted way of making a serious point, and I am delighted that at least some families have been taking up the challenge.

MELBOURNE 2 June 2006

Contact: Renae Stoikos 03 9650 0244