The St Vincent de Paul Society opposes this Bill, which seeks to achieve budgetary savings by pausing indexation to family payments and associated income thresholds, in addition to imposing indexation freezes on Parental Leave Pay.
Our family payments system performs two vital social and economic functions – helping to prevent child poverty, and treating low- and middle-income families with children fairly by taking into account the costs of raising children in the tax-transfer system. Our Paid Parental Leave scheme also serves important social and economic functions, supporting women’s equality in paid workforce participation and better gender equity in lifetime earnings.
This Bill undermines these functions, cutting away at family payments and paid parental leave. Of greatest concern are cuts to the end-of-year family tax benefit supplements - cuts that will have the greatest impact on low-income households. Such cuts are being proposed in a context where the family payments system has been steadily eroded over the past decade – a period that has coincided with an increase in the rates of children living in poverty in Australia. With one in five children in Australia living in poverty, this Bill is part of a sustained policy trend which has forced families to cover higher living costs with less.
Instead of further funding cuts, we believe the family payments system needs to be strengthened to ensure all families are adequately supported to raise children and maintain an acceptable standard of living.