TAXATION: by Margaret ButtsNews Weekly
Single-income families the biggest losers
, July 23, 2011
In the comments about Julia Gillard’s carbon tax, little attention has been paid to the insult she delivered to unwaged mothers in her speech to the nation on Sunday, July 10. That she was unaware she was insulting full-time homemakers only compounds the offence.
I heard her speech on a car radio and was so incensed I made several efforts to get a full transcript to ensure I had heard it correctly.
However, newspapers have only published edited transcripts, and at the time of going to press her office has said the full speech is not yet available despite several requests they had received. On such an important issue the delay hardly suggests efficiency.
This is what I heard Julia Gillard say: “I believe in the benefits and dignity of work. I believe in creating jobs and increasing workforce participation, not only for the financial benefits but for the sense and purpose of doing a job.”
She then went on to say she was increasing the tax-free threshold from the current $6,000 to $18,200 from July 1, 2012, and to $19,400 from July 1, 2015.
Clearly, what Gillard means by the benefits and dignity of work does not include the work done by unwaged mothers caring for their young children themselves. Their families will not benefit from the new double tax-free threshold (total $36,400) available to families where both parents are in paid work and who may also be eligible to receive child-care subsidies.
While there is some assistance via Family Tax Benefit B to single-income families to compensate for the lack of a second tax-free threshold, this cuts out where the wage-earner earns $60,000 or more. An income of $60,000 for a family with two children is not a high income, especially if that family is aiming to provide non-government education for their children.
Why is it considered “work” if a stranger cares for and bottle-feeds an infant in a child-care centre, but not “work” if a mother cares for and breastfeeds her infant herself? Gillard’s statement that the “dignity of work” and “sense of purpose” apply only to paid work is demoralising to mothers caring for their young children themselves.
Many couples believe it is in the best interests of their children that they be cared for by a parent and not by a paid stranger in institutionalised child-care.
Clearly, Gillard’s aim with the enticement of a second tax-free threshold of $18,200 is to coerce more mothers into the paid workforce and is chillingly reminiscent of the slogan over Nazi slave-labour camps: Arbeit macht frei (“Work sets you free”).
Mrs Roslyn Phillips, of Family Voice Australia (FAVA), asks poignantly why single-income two-parent families are being penalised: “The big losers from the carbon tax could well be single-income families where one parent (usually Mum) works at home providing optimal care for the younger kids, while Dad brings home the bacon to feed them all.
“These traditional families are already worse off than families where both parents work outside the home. The latter enjoy two tax-free thresholds (2 x $6,000) and lower tax rates thereafter, while single-income families have only one tax-free threshold ($6,000) and higher tax rates. The Family Tax Benefit B only partly compensates for this big difference.
“With a tripling of the tax-free threshold, traditional families are left even further behind — yet these are the families who are more likely to peg their clothes on the line rather than use electric dryers, grow their own veggies, walk their kids to school and generally adopt a cleaner, greener, more energy-efficient lifestyle.
“Why, in the name of reducing ‘carbon pollution’, are they being punished?”
Nationals leader Warren Truss warns that the ripple effects from the Labor Government’s carbon tax will grow to engulf every business and household as the costs magnify and the tax ratchets up.
His comment on the increase in the tax-free threshold from $6,000 to $18,200 was that what Gillard didn’t trumpet is “that she is also increasing the tax rate applying to lower income levels from 15 to 19 cents and from 30 to 33 cents — clawing back much of the assistance families can expect.”
Some mothers of newborns suffer from depression, and their plight is not likely to be eased by Julia Gillard’s babbling about the “purpose and dignity of work” or by headlines such as “Third child a real career killer and mum may never get to catch up” (The Australian, July 8, 2011, p.3).
Australianeeds some parents to have more than two children just to keep our population at replacement level.
Why can’t Prime Minister Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott sing the praises of those couples who have more than two children and who sacrifice a second income so they can provide the optimum care for their young children?
Mrs Margaret Butts is a mother of seven and Victorian co-ordinator of Endeavour Forum, Inc.