Wednesday, 20 June 2012
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Community Services, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development and Minister for the Status of Women. How will the government's schoolkids bonus, which began to be delivered into the accounts of 1.3 million families today, make it easier for mothers and parents to meet their children's school costs?
I thank the member for Bass for his question. I know that my fellow Tasmanian understands the importance of the schoolkids bonus to the 6,900 families in his electorate and, indeed, to the more than 35,000 families in Tasmania who will be receiving this payment. I am sure the member for Bass will be interested to know that there is a total of $37 million going to families in our home state of Tasmania. This money is to help parents with the cost of essentials like schoolbooks and uniforms.
We know, and parents know, that sending children to school is not cheap. This Labor government knows that. As the Minister for the Status of Women I know from talking to parents that it is often the mums who do the running around to get the kids ready for the start of the school year. We know that they do not want to have to keep track of their receipts or fill out paperwork at tax time to get some help with the schoolkids' costs. But it seems the only people who do not really understand that are those opposite, because we have had the member for Menzies here say he thinks it is actually not that difficult to collect the receipts for the amount of money which is required. I think he needs to get out a bit more—he should come down to my electorate and talk to the mums at the school like I did last week. They were telling me about how difficult it is to keep track of things at the start of the school year—the school shoes, the uniforms, the books and the pencil cases. Then they have to work out which are eligible deductions, keep the receipts and remember where they put them.
This government is responding to the needs of mums and dads. We understand that they are busy. Before the schoolkids bonus, 80 per cent of families were missing out on their full entitlements under the education tax refund, and this Labor government does not want families to miss out on their entitlements—the $410 per primary school child and the $820 per secondary child. That is why we are making this change from today, and people will start receiving the schoolkids bonus in their bank accounts from today. From next year, they will receive it in two payments, in January and in July. We know that this will be great for working families, particularly for those mums who are going around at the beginning of the year helping their families out. One million families will now benefit more. A typical family will get $720 extra a year.
But let us be very clear about what the Leader of the Opposition is saying. He does not think that mums and dads can be trusted to spend this money appropriately. He does not understand that they are busy. He does not understand that they actually make decisions day in, day out for their families. Those opposite voted against the 1.3 million Australian families who will start receiving this bonus from today, and that is because those opposite do not think those families should have the bonus. They have voted against it. They speak negatively about it. The member for Sturt today let the cat out of the bag—their plan is to scrap it.