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Howard Government falls $1.5 billion short on family promises.

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Wayne Swan MP Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services


Australian families have been short changed $1.5 billion on key family spending promises made during the last two elections, new budget and tax figures have shown.

The massive spending shortfall shows the Howard Government’s centrepiece policies for families have been a fraud.

During the 1998 election the Coalition promised its new Family Tax Benefit and Childcare Benefit would provide an additional $2.4 billion of assistance - but detailed analysis of actual spending has shown additional benefits fell $1.025 billion short1.

During the 2001 election the Howard Government promised its Baby Bonus would provide an additional $1.235 billion to new mothers, but figures released this week show payments to families will fall $540 million short of this promise2.

The massive shortfall confirms the Coalition’s family promises have provided far less assistance to families than was claimed.

It also shows the Howard Government simply cannot be trusted to deliver to families what it promises.

In the case of the Family Tax Benefits, after adjusting for the erosion of benefits due to inflation, the real increase was just $783 million. Across 2.2 million families, this is an average of just $6.84 per week.

These small gains have done little to ease the unprecedented financial pressure families are under - they are being taxed more than ever before, paying more for their children’s health and education, and are wrestling colossal mortgage repayments.

The Howard Government is out of touch with families. Its payments are complex and difficult for families to understand.

Labor has been listening to families and knows the financial pressure they are under.

In the first of its major family policies, Labor announced this week a simple and easy to access Baby Care Payment to assist new mothers, starting at $3000 and increasing to $5,380.

ENDS Sat 03 April 04 Web:

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

1 FaCS and ATO data 1999-2001 - Family and family related tax benefits were worth $9.84 billion in 1999-2000, but in 2000-2001 family benefit entitlements increased by only $1.375 billion rather than the $2.4 billion promised. 2

Budget Paper No. 2 2002-03 and Treasury Executive Minute 31/03/2004