House of Representatives

Family Assistance and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013

Second Reading Speech

Ms Collins (Minister for Community Services, Minister for the Status of Women and Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development)

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill introduces changes to the baby bonus announced in the 2012-13 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. These changes will maintain support for new parents with the upfront costs of having a baby, while ensuring the family payments system is sustainable into the future.

From 1 July 2013, the baby bonus for second and subsequent children who come into a family will be reduced to $3,000.

Baby bonus will continue to be paid at the rate of $5,000 for a family's first child.

The changes introduced by this bill recognise that families buy the big-ticket nursery items for their first child.

Most families do not face the same upfront costs for a second or later child as they do for their first child.

Expensive items such as the cot, pram, change table and baby capsule are generally reused when the younger siblings come along.

For multiple births, the baby bonus will continue to be $5,000 for each child. This recognises that, with the arrival of two or more children at once, for example, with the birth or adoption of twins, families clearly face greater financial pressure.

Other forms of assistance are also available to eligible parents through paid parental leave, dad and partner pay, family tax benefit and childcare assistance.

This Labor government is delivering more assistance than ever for low- and middle-income families with paid parental leave and dad and partner pay, dental care for kids, the schoolkids bonus, boosts to family payments and the childcare rebate, and tax cuts.

We have also made responsible and targeted decisions to ensure this support is available to families for the long term.

This change will provide a saving of $505.9 million over the forward estimates.

The bill will also ensure that families remain eligible for family tax benefit until the end of the calendar year their child finishes secondary study. This is the government's current policy, and amendments in this bill make sure that this policy applies for high school students who finish their school year in November, as well as for those who finish in December.

In addition, beneficial changes are made to the double orphan pension to align it with the rules for family tax benefit. This means, for example, that a carer can continue to receive double orphan pension for a young person in their care until the end of the calendar year in which the young person turns 19 if they are still in secondary study, or until their 18th birthday if they have already completed secondary study.

Lastly, the bill includes some minor clarifying and technical amendments to portfolio legislation, in line with the intended policy.

Debate adjourned.