I can recall a lot of my older friends scoffing when The Howard Government introduced the Baby Bonus, “we never got anything, why should you?”. This was fair enough but it’s about the same as us saying back to those same people “You got cheaper electricity costs for longer than we did so why should we pay for the increase?” It’s called progress people and yet again we’re paying for it now.
The one thing I liked about Johnny Howard and Peter Costello was they were fairly even handed with the giving. I guess they recognised that no matter what you did or didn’t earn, it was all relative and even those who paid a bucketload of tax deserved a bit of it back to look after their baby.
The Government giveth….and the next one taketh away.
When I had baby no 1, the baby bonus was enormously helpful. $3,000 cash in the hand. My obstetricians fees were $3,000. I didn’t buy a plasma TV, I handed the money straight to the OB and didn’t clutter up the public health system.
When I had baby no 2, the baby bonus was enormously helpful, $4,000 cash in the hand. My obstetricians fees were $4,000 (surprise, surprise), I handed the money straight to the OB and didn’t clutter up the public health system.
When I had baby no 3, the baby bonus was enormously helpful, $5,000 cash in the hand, my obstetricians fees were $5,000 (that one did surprise me but he got a bit popular and I guess was being a smart business operator), I handed the money straight to the OB and didn’t clutter up the public health system.
When I had baby no 4, Kevin Rudd had taken over. I no longer qualified for the baby bonus. I couldn’t complain, I’d basically been given almost free private health care for free for the first three children but it did mean less time was taken off work as we had no paid maternity leave scheme. Given the financial commitments I had at the time, I took 4 full days off work. Baby came to work with me and in hindsight, it was a lovely time for both of us.
The Rudd government didn’t just take the baby bonus off me, they took it away from anyone earning more than $75,000 a year so for a short period of time, there were a hell of a lot of women who qualified for nothing to help them with the cost of leaving work and bringing another life into the world and unless their work offered paid maternity leave, they got nada. By the time many of my friends were having babies, they were successful enough to be earning over $75,000 a year and yet they didn’t qualify or count for any assistance and that included Family Tax Benefit A and Family Tax Benefit B which I believe you need a degree to be able to understand let alone apply for.
All I can say is thank GOD for the daycare assistance that ALL working parents are eligible for because at $130 per day to put your child in daycare, it’s almost not worth going back to work (for those who aren’t aware, the government will pay you back 50% of your costs of daycare up to a value of $7,000 per child for the year. So if you work full time and pay $130 a day for 50 weeks a year because you still have to pay for public holidays and childcare centres only close for two weeks a year, then you’re up for $32,500 in total but the government will pay you back $7,000 so the cost is $25,500 PER CHILD! Private schooling is cheaper!)
When Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan took over, they did do one good thing, they introduced paid parental leave to eligible parents (just make sure you’re not successful or have a good job because you don’t count as eligible, yup, I’m serious, they’ll help some people but not the ones who contribute the most tax). Eligible working parents receive Parental Leave Pay (currently $589.40 a week before tax) for a maximum period of 18 weeks. This comes to a total of $10,609 which is certainly helpful but guess what, if you’re not a working parent, you don’t qualify for this money, they don’t count at home Mum’s as working parents. RIDICULOUS.
However in Julia and Wayne’s wisdom, they also promised voters at the last election that they would get the economy back into surplus. As a result they’ve announced today that they’ve slashed the baby bonus yet again by $400 per family to cover the cost of getting her economy back into surplus so that she can tell voters, “See I told you we could do it”. I can’t help but think this would be the last thing that Julia would have done if she had kids. Seriously. I think it matters, I can’t believe the words from someone talking about the pressures of working families when she doesn’t have one. Sure she can empathise but it’s not the same. Unfortunately I don’t think she has a god damn clue about the cost of raising a family and in taking something away, even from the labour voting heartland, this one is going to hurt her. Big time.
More info below:
Can I get the Baby Bonus?
To be eligible for Baby Bonus you must:
- be the primary carer of a dependent child or the partner of the primary carer
- have the care of the child within 26 weeks of the child’s birth and be likely to continue for at least 26 weeks
- in the case of adoption, have the child come into your primary care as part of the adoption process before the child is sixteen years of age
- not have received or be receiving Parental Leave Pay for the child
- have adjusted taxable income of less than or equal to $75,000* for the period in the six months following the child’s entry into your primary care, and
- meet Australian residency requirements for family assistance purposes.
Parents are required to formally register the birth of their child as a condition of receiving the Baby Bonus. This requirement does not apply to parents whose child is stillborn, adopted or born outside Australia.
How is the Baby Bonus paid?
Baby Bonus is paid per eligible child in 13 fortnightly instalments. From 1 July 2011, customers eligible to receive Baby Bonus will get a higher first instalment of $879.77 and 12 fortnightly instalments of approximately $379.77. The higher first instalment of Baby Bonus will assist with the upfront costs of having a new child.
You cannot receive Parental Leave Pay and a Baby Bonus payment for the same child. If you are eligible for both Parental Leave Pay and the Baby Bonus, you can access the Paid Parental Leave Comparison Estimator to help you make an informed decision about which payment to claim.
If you have twins, you could receive a Baby Bonus payment for each child. If you have twins and are eligible for Parental Leave Pay, you could receive Parental Leave Pay for one child and Baby Bonus for the other.