Working families lose out to war: ALP


Working families lose out to war: ALP

The federal government’s announcement that work and family reforms will not be part of the May budget has been criticised by the ALP.


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The federal government’s announcement that work and family reforms will not be part of the May budget has been criticised by the ALP.
The ALP Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, Wayne Swan, said the Prime Minister was more interested in sending troops to war than addressing the financial pressures facing working families.
A spokesperson for the federal Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, told WorkplaceInfo the Government was interested in working families, but it had never intended to include work and family provisions in the May budget.
Family budget woes
Swan’s spokesperson dismissed Abbott’s claim that the family welfare package was never intended to be released in the May budget.
He told WorkplaceInfo, as a minimum, the Opposition believed the May budget should include provisions that changed the family payment rules and avoided a repeat of last year when 680,000 families owed money to the government.
This year it was predicted that 610,000 families would owe money, he said.
Since the introduction of the family payment system, families have had to pay back $1billion – an average of $800 per family.
Swan’s spokesperson rejected the notion the Government needed to divert funding to the war effort. The Government, he said, had been talking about work and family tax welfare reforms for five years. He said the war should not be an excuse to drop something as important as work and family provisions.
Although Swan’s spokesperson was prepared to criticise the Government, he wasn’t forthcoming with details of the ALP’s own work and family policy, except to say the Opposition is committed to paid maternity leave.
Government position — longer time-line
According to Abbott’s spokesperson, the Government was still consulting with stakeholders to determine what the work and family reforms would be. The Government would not be able to announce what these reforms would be until the consultation process was completed and a policy formulated, which would be later this year, she said.
Minimum budget provisions
A spokesperson for the Australian Council of Trade Unions told WorkplaceInfo: ‘the work and family issue was something John Howard had conceded was the number one social issue in Australia.
‘He needed to put his money where his mouth was and a least include [14 weeks] paid maternity leave as set out by Prue Goward as part of the May budget.’ 
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