Browsing articles in "Social security"
Sunday 5th June 2016 - 7:44 pm
Comments Off on Labor presents its childcare policy

Labor presents its childcare policy

by Alan Thornhill

More than one million Australian families will benefit from child support changes Labor is proposing, the party claimed today.

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, and the Shadow Minister for Early Education, Kate Ellis, made the claim in a joint statement.

The plan is based largely on in increases to the annual cap on the present Child Care Benefit.

Mr Shorten and Ms Ellis declared: “the annual cap on the Child Care Rebate will be increased from $7,500 to $10,000 per child, leaving families up to $2,500 per child per year better off.”

And they added: “Low and middle income families will benefit from an increase to the Child Care Benefit of 15 per cent.

“Every one of the 813,000 families that rely on the Child Care Benefit will be better off – an increase up to $31 per child per week, or up to $1,627 per year, will provide much needed relief for the family budget.

“Right now, too many Australian women have their pay packet eaten up by the costs of child care,” they added.

“Labor’s plan will take pressure off the family budget and help grow the economy by keeping more parents in work.

“Better child care is essential to a growing economy,” they said.

“It’s central to Labor’s plan for fairer growth, real jobs and greater opportunities.”

“Families who rely on child care need a better deal now – and that’s what Labor will deliver,” they said.

“By boosting the current system Labor will ensure that all children continue to have access to two days of vital early education,” they said.

Labor’s plan will also include:-

– Cracking down on unjustified price increases

– New transparency and accountability standards

– Extra powers to investigate unjustified price increases and stop price gouging.

– Supporting flexible Family Day Care – Investing an additional $50 million to support improvements to the Family Day Care system, including flexible options for families and enhancing the education, investigation and compliance programs.

– Better services for Indigenous children and children in remote areas –
– Increasing support for children in Budget Base Funded Services by 15 per cent, in line with the increase to the Child Care Benefit.

– Valuing our early education workforce – $150 million investment towards developing the early education workforce – developing a new Early Years’ Workforce Strategy

-And establishing a national Educator Professional Development Program,”

” Labor will also make submissions to the Fair Work Commission proceedings in support of professional wages for early childhood educators,” they said.

They also claimed that Labor’s plan compares more than favorably with the Liberal alternative.

“And it is affordable,” they added.

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Saturday 4th June 2016 - 9:24 am
Comments Off on Hold firm on super :pensioners tell PM

Hold firm on super :pensioners tell PM

by Alan Thornhill

Malcolm Turnbull is facing pressure from all sides over his plan to place caps on the tax advantages that come with superannuation.

While some Liberal Senators are already threatening revolt if the Prime Minister goes ahead with his plan, after winning the July 2 elections a much bigger group-pensioners- is letting him know that they will be unhappy if he doesn’t.

They made their views known, in a news statement early today.

They said:”The nation’s seniors peak body, COTA Australia, and the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) signed a joint letter to the Prime Minister, concerned that good policy was under threat from pressure being applied by a small number of adversely effected individuals.

COTA recently surveyed its membership Election Panel and 87 per cent agreed that ‘the current tax concessions on superannuation contribution favour the well-off’.

The COTA and ACOSS joint letter calls on the Government to hold firm on key features of its Budget superannuation reforms:

“we write to urge you to hold firm in resisting calls to weaken, defer or abandon the key features…of the superannuation reform package contained in your recent Federal Budget.

We have…been very concerned that the tax treatment of superannuation prior to this Budget was not ‘fit for purpose’.

“Superannuation had become a wealth and estate management tool, especially for those with the highest incomes, and this has been having a seriously negative affect on the integrity, credibility and cost of our superannuation system.

“The Budget measures to limit the amount of accumulated superannuation on which earnings will be tax free; to place a lifetime limit on the level of non-concessional contributions; and to lower the annual limit on concessional contributions all go a significant way to addressing those concerns.

“The existing tax system offers too little support for people with low incomes, most of whom are women. The proposed tax offset for low income earners…will have a positive impact…and must be pursued.”

COTA and ACOSS also wrote to the Opposition Leader and Leader of the Greens to urge consensus:

Tuesday 31st May 2016 - 12:34 pm
Comments Off on Super:Who’s missing out?

Super:Who’s missing out?

by Alan Thornhill


So you are young and self-employed, but you’ve remembered retirement, right?

Well, perhaps.

But there is a special reason for asking that, apparently intrusive, question.

Recent research, by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) found that almost one young, self employed Australian in four has no super.

The Association’s Chief Executive Officer Pauline Vamos also says it is “extremely concerning” that older Australians, who have been self employed, often have much less money in their superannuation accounts than others, as they approach retirement.

She is urging young self-employed Australians to do a little retirement planning.

Ms Vamos admits that she is also disturbed by another finding that emerged from ASFA’s research.

Nearly 10 per cent of the workforce is self-employed and it is currently not compulsory for them to make superannuation contributions.

In the run up to retirement, those who are self-employed and are aged 60-64, have around half the superannuation of employees.

Only 27 per cent of those in their 60s who are self-employed, and soon to reach retirement, have more than $100,000 in superannuation, compared to 50 per cent of employees under the Superannuation Guarantee (SG).

Ms Vamos said that is “extremely concerning.”

The research also found that said people with lower-value business assets were also found to be more likely to have lower superannuation balances, or no super at all.

Those with lower-value business assets were also found to be more likely to have lower superannuation balances, or no super at all.

Ms Vamos said many sald many self-employed Austtralians would not have enough money fpr a comfortable retirement

““We encourage all Australians to think about the lifestyle they want in retirement and to setup, and make regular contributions to superannuation,”
she said .

“Business assets such as financial, shares or investment properties are often believed to serve as de-facto superannuation. However many of those who are self-employed do not have significant business or financial assets, and may struggle sustaining the standard of living they are used to when they reach retirement age.

“Business assets such as financial, shares or investment properties are often believed to serve as de-facto superannuation. However many of those who are self-employed do not have significant business or financial assets, and may struggle sustaining the standard of living they are used to when they reach retirement age.

“Superannuation is a purpose built system for the building of retirement savings. Because it is a long-term investment, the earlier you start putting more into super, the more you benefit from the effects of compounding interest. Contributing to super makes for a sound business decision.”

Because it is a long-term investment, the earlier you start putting more into super, the more you benefit from the effects of compounding interest. Contributing to super makes for a sound business decision,” Ms Vamos said.

While making contributions to super is currently not compulsory for the self-employed, if they do, there are a number of benefits they can potentially claim from the Government, such as bonus co-contributions, she added.

“Now is an opportune time for all, particularly those who are self-employed, to assess where they are in terms of their retirement planning, where they want to get to and how to save enough money to get there,” Ms Vamos concluded.

“Now is an opportune time for all, particularly those who are self-employed, to assess where they are in terms of their retirement planning, where they want to get to and how to save enough money to get there,” Ms Vamos concluded.

Sunday 29th May 2016 - 10:59 pm
Comments Off on Our political leaders present themselves, carefully

Our political leaders present themselves, carefully

by Alan Thornhill

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, told voters tonight that growth is necessary for Australia.

He said that is fundamental.

And – taking care to appear Prime Ministerial – Mr Turnbull said his government had a plan to achieve growth that would produce new jobs and prosperity.

The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, responded by saying that fairness is needed for growth.

And he said the government’s plan to give big foreign companies $50 billion worth of tax cuts over the next 10 years is not fair.

He said a well educated population, with access to good health care, is essential.

The two leaders were speaking in the second of their debates in the current election campaign, leading to national elections on July 2.

Tonight’s debate was the first to be televised publicly.

The first was carried only on pay television.

Although both leaders were criticised tonight for not giving enough detail about their policies, both would probably be reasonably happy with their performances.

Both managed to avoid embarrassing mistakes.

And both stuck to carefully considered strategies.

Mr Turnbull sought to re-assure those who share his philosophies and to convince doubters that voting for a reckless spending Labor government on July 2 would be just too risky.

And Mr Shorten, who realises that he is less well known than his rival, took care to present himself as a moderate responsible leader, who will advance thoroughly thought out policies, in this campaign which still has five weeks to run.

Wednesday 4th May 2016 - 8:12 am
Comments Off on The budget:clearing the decks

The budget:clearing the decks

by Alan Thornhill

Last night’s Federal budget favours the “big end of town” according to the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten.

The Treasurer, Scott Morrison, concedes that the document he brought into Federal parliament then is not a traditional budget, with easily identified winners and losers.

However, he raised eyebrows by insisting that a modest income tax, for those on high incomes, benefits average wage earners.

But above all, this budget will deliver the one thing the Turnbull government wants most.

That is a clear run to the early election the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, will almost certainly call on July 2.

The parameters, on which that election will be fought, have now been clearly spelt out.

For Labor, its all about fairness.

The government will make a case for growth and jobs, with the mainly small – and bland – changes it announced in the budget.

And the Reserve Bank asserted its independence – on budget day – by cutting its marker interest rate by 25 basis points, to a new low of 1.75 per cent.

It says the risks of doing that are, at least, lower than those of not doing so.

So what else is the government aiming for, in its budget?

• A deficit of $37.1 billion this financial year.
However, it is also aiming to make big international corporations to pay their full share of tax, on the income they earn in Australia.

• 2.5 per cent economic growth, both this financial year and next.

• A 1 per cent cut in the small business tax rate, to 27.5 per cent.

• Cutting the company tax rate to 25 per cent for all companies, over four years.

Thursday 14th April 2016 - 1:50 pm
Comments Off on Trend job growth eases

Trend job growth eases

by Alan Thornhill

Trend employment growth in Australia has eased.
The Bureau of Statistics reported today that this indicator, which the Bureau regards as the most reliable it produces, fell to just 2.2 percent in March.
That was down from 2.6 per cent in December last year.
On its more commonly used seasonally adjusted measure, the Bureau reported that the number of Australians with jobs rose by 26,100 in March.
That left the nation’s seasonally adjusted labour force participation rate for March at 64.9 per cent.
The Bureau said too that – on the same basis – the number of people unemployed fell by 7,300 during the month
This left Australia with a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent for the month, 0.1 percentage points below the February level.

Thursday 31st March 2016 - 4:55 pm
Comments Off on Malcolm Turnbull puts a dodgy case to the Premiers

Malcolm Turnbull puts a dodgy case to the Premiers

by Alan Thornhill

The Federal government will use its economic heft, over the next few days, to force the States to impose their own income taxes, to cover an $80 billion cut in Federal health and education funding.

It says the cuts, over 10 years, have been necessitated by shortfalls in expected  revenue growth.

However figures published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today, suggest otherwise.

They strongly suggest, that the argument Malcolm Turnbull has advanced, in this case, represents little more than an elaborate job shuffle.

At first, it all seems simple.

The Federal government and the States remain at odds over a tax reform plan that Malcolm Turnbull will put to the Premiers over the next few days.

The Prime Minister will urge the Premiers, at a dinner he will host for them tonight, to impose their own State income taxes to cover an $80 billion cut in Federal revenue, over the next 10 years.

The dinner will  launch proceedings in the latest meeting of the Council of Australian Governments, or COAG.

But Mr Turnbull’s already widely discussed proposal  has not found favour with the Premiers.

However the Prime Minister will insist that shortfalls in expected economic growth have made the cuts necessary.

He will, almost certainly, urge the Premiers over the next few days, to show patience as there are now fresh signs of strength emerging in the economy.

So what do we have, so far?

Another predictable argument between the Federal government and the States, over the carve up of the money used to govern this country.

Ho hum.

But let’s take a closer look at the figures the ABS published today.

They show a remarkably strong trend increase of 3.1 per cent in the number of job vacancies between in Australia between November  last year and February this year .

That left  Australia with 172,900 job vacancies in February this year.

The Bureau also reported  a spectacular trend rise – of 13.4 of cent – in these vacancies since February  last year.

Remarkably, the public sector led the way – with a 24.8 per cent trend rise – over the year, to February.

The  private sector also turned in a strong performance with a 12.4 per cent trend rise.

But as the Federal government is urging the States to do something they don’t want to do – that is impose their own taxes – they would be quite entitled to ask what these figures mean.

Does the spectacular rise in public sector job vacancies, for example, cover a lot of job churning?

The Premiers might  ask, for example, whether highly publicised job cuts – imposed by the Federal  government, were real or illusory.

That is were there a significant number of  Federal public servants who were sacked in  economy drives,  say on Fridays, who were back at new desks, perhaps by the following Mondays.

If job churning of this kind was significant, doesn’t  that cause the Commonwealth case for State income taxes  to collapse?

In any case, the   Federal  government will be hoping that all vacancies are filled quickly.

That would mean that many more people would – once again –  be paying tax and easing the Federal government’s budgetary problems.

Wednesday 16th March 2016 - 1:49 pm
Comments Off on The deadlock:What now?

The deadlock:What now?

by Alan Thornhill

The Turnbull government may be facing the rare prospect of a defeat in Federal parliament which could lead to an early election.

This prospect has arisen because the government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull does not control the Senate and he is anxious to set up a building industry watchdog, the Australian Building and Construction Commission Bill.

This is one of a number of bills on which debate between the two houses of parliament, the House of Representatives and the Senate is deadlocked.

Control of the Senate is currently shared by the Labor party, the Liberals and Nationals, the Greens and various micro parties.

The micro-parties and independents would probably be wiped out if voting reforms that the government is also proposing area adopted.

For that reason – if no other-a fierce and messy debate on these plans has been predicted this week -and – in fact – it has already begun.

The Treasurer, Scott Morrison, was severely embarrassed yesterday when he was forced to admit in parliament that that cuts he had flagged earlier, for this year’s budget are no longer likely to be realised.

This led Labor members to suggest that his position is now untenable.

MrMorrison  is now saying that individual tax cuts – which he has previously flagged – will not be possible until the budget is in better shape – he Morrison has dashing hopes he had previously raised, in that area. Now, he is saying that only tax cuts for business are still on the cards.  Mr Morrison regards them  as a tangible “growth dividend.”  That is Treasury-speak for economic growth and higher employment rates.

So some  opposition members are now wondering if the Treasurer is engaging in the traditional pre-budget game of expectation management, where gloomy predictions are seeded before delivering a bretter than expected outcome  on budget nigh, to to sighs of relief.

However the shadow treasurer Chris Bowen sees the government’s mixed messages on tax changes with glimpses of a higher offset by loweri aand now earlier cuts in tax rates as  evidence that Mr Morrison lacks authority.

“It took Joe Hockey two years to crash and burn,” Mr Bowen told Parliament.

It’s taken Scott Morrison six months.”


“When it comes to economic policy and tax reform, the last three years have been a waste, with the government promising three more years of the same.”

He said it was time Mr Morrison “considered his position”.

The comments followed media reports that the Treasurer has told colleagues that a lack of “fiscal headroom” made tax cuts for individuals impossible at present.

This is despite the fact htat Mr Morrison wasg among the most vociferous advocates of returning “bracket creep” to taxpayers who through wage inflation had drifted into higher taxation brackets.

The government effectively surrendered the scope for large-scale tax reform once it pulled out out of lifting the GST – a measure it was understood Mr Morrison was more inclined towards than Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

On Tuesday, Mr Morrison attacked Labor’s proposed halving of the capital gains tax discount on housing, arguing it would inhibit rather than encourage investment.

Confusion over the finalisation and release of the tax package had seen it flagged for April, then in the budget, and then both, although a government source said it was merely a matter of keeping release options open allowing budget details to be reported in the days leading to it.

But the date of the budget itself remains in play


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Alan Thornhill

Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.

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