The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

JACK­POT FOR MUMS

Hockey’s pitch to get women back to work

- RE­NEE VIELLARIS

FAM­I­LIES will keep wel­fare even if par­ents re­turn to work or in­crease their work­ing hours, un­der a plan to su­per­charge the econ­omy.

The Sun­day Mail can re­veal Trea­surer Joe Hockey is ex­am­in­ing op­tions to make it more lu­cra­tive for mums to re­turn to work, declar­ing “for the sake of the fu­ture of the Aus­tralian econ­omy, we need you”.

FAM­I­LIES will keep wel­fare pay­ments even if they re­turn to work or boost their work­ing hours un­der a plan to su­per­charge the econ­omy.

The Ab­bott Gov­ern­ment white pa­per – to be re­leased be­fore the next elec­tion – will in­clude op­tions that will al­low low-to-mid­dle in­come house­holds to keep some or a por­tion of their ben­e­fits, such as Fam­ily Tax Ben­e­fit A or the Child Care Ben­e­fit.

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with The Sun­day Mail, Joe Hockey has di­rectly ap­pealed to women to en­cour­age them back into the work­force, say­ing: “For the sake of the fu­ture of the Aus­tralian econ­omy, we need you.”

The Trea­surer re­vealed his Gov­ern­men t un­der­stood more work­ing women wanted to ex­tend the time they spent with their kids, and “con­ver­sa­tions” were be­ing held on how it could be achieved.

The Sun­day Mail un­der­stands this could be through the in­dus­trial re­la­tions sys­tem, by al­low­ing for more job shar­ing or giv­ing women more op­por­tu­nity to work from home.

If fe­male par­tic­i­pa­tion (this means in work or look­ing for work) in­creased by just 4 per cent (or 393,000 ex­tra women na­tion­ally; which equates to 78,000 women in Queens­land) it would add $25 bil­lion to the econ­omy. El­i­gi­ble fam­i­lies who have a child un­der 13 years re­ceive a FTB A pay­ment of about $4500.

But if their in­come spills over $48,837, their ben­e­fit is re­duced by 20¢ for ev­ery ex­tra dol­lar earned. It means there can be no in­cen­tive to work harder.

“As you earn more, you not only stand to lose ben­e­fits, but you may also jump in to higher tax brack­ets and then pay more tax on ex­tra dol­lars you earn,” Mr Hockey y said.

“We have an age­ing pop­u­la­tion, we need (women) to be more pro­duc­tive. We need you for your ex­pe­ri­ence, we need you for the con­tri­bu­tion you all make for the jobs that your chil­dren will get in the fu­ture.

“The Prime Min­is­ter and I have talked about how we can try and sup­port women who are en­deav­our­ing to bal­ance a home life and other de­mands but we’re work­ing it through.

“It’s not just mums re t ur ni ng (to the work­force) but mums who want to spend more time with their own chil­dren.

“One area of growth is the start-up of home-based busi­nesses and women have been pro­lific in set­ting up home-based busi­nesses, they’re great in­no­va­tors.”

Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott told The Sun­day Mail the need for women to be eco­nom­i­cally ac­tive was “cen­tral to our very no­tion of mod­ern so­ci­ety”.

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