Wed, Jan 8 2003 10:35 AM AEDT
Govt denies 'baby bonus' scheme flawed
The Federal Government has denied claims its "baby bonus" scheme is flawed.
Acting Family and Community Services Minister Larry Anthony says criticisms from Shadow Tresurer Bob McMullan that the benefits disproportinately went to well-off mothers are completely false.
Yesterday, the Opposition released independent research by the parliamentary library that found only one in 65 recipients would get the full benefit.
However, Mr Anthony says figures quoted by Mr McMullan were inaccurate and the bonus is getting to the families it should.
"They're totally misleading facts," Mr Anthony said.
"The bottom line is that over 118,000 Australians since the baby bonus was introduced have received it and a vast majority, which is 82 per cent of those payments, have gone to low-income families or those earning under $20,000."
Mr Anthony says it is too early to tell how many families have taken advantage of the scheme.
"It's still early days yet because people haven't put all their tax returns in for the last financial year," he said.
He says nearly 120,000 Australians have accessed the payment.
The Government has also accused the Opposition of wanting to abolish the baby bonus scheme if it is elected, saying the Opposition is trying to discredit the scheme.
Mr Anthony says under a Labor government, even the minimum payment of $500 would be scrapped.
"What they're suggesting I think is that they're going to abolish the baby bonus and even $500," he said.
"I think it is quite a considerable amount, particularly for a family for a first child that has been born."