The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

Pol­icy works for women

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Ev­ery now and then, a po­lit­i­cal leader will come up with a pol­icy gem that tran­scends the usual drab de­bate that has come to char­ac­terise Aus­tralian pol­i­tics. We saw it when for­mer Queens­land premier Camp­bell New­man de­cided enough was enough with crim­i­nal bikie gangs and he in­tro­duced tough and ef­fec­tive laws to ban­ish them from the state. Why the cur­rent La­bor Gov­ern­ment would even con­tem­plate wind­ing those laws back to give these thugs the op­por­tu­nity to ply their ugly crim­i­nal­ity again is a re­flec­tion of how out of touch with re­al­ity is the cur­rent Cab­i­net.

To­day, we re­veal Trea­surer Joe Hockey has a plan to su­per­charge the econ­omy by al­low­ing fam­i­lies to keep wel­fare pay­ments even if moth­ers re­turn to work or boost their work­ing hours. 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 Re­bate.

The Trea­surer re­vealed his Gov­ern­ment un­der­stood more work­ing women wanted to spend more time with their kids, and “con­ver­sa­tions’’ were be­ing had on how it could be achieved. If fe­male par­tic­i­pa­tion in the work­force rose 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.

Un­der the cur­rent sys­tem, as women earn more they lose ben­e­fits and jump into higher tax brack­ets. This plan is a master stroke in public pol­icy. It will in­cen­tivise women to get back into the work­force, know­ing it will not disad­van­tage them fi­nan­cially. It also means their child­care will not be as ex­pen­sive.

Any­thing that sup­ports women who are en­deav­our­ing to bal­ance a home life and other de­mands is a pos­i­tive move. The Prime Min­is­ter has told The Sun­day Mail that “the need for women to be eco­nom­i­cally ac­tive was cen­tral to our very no­tion of mod­ern so­ci­ety’’. The Ab­bott Gov­ern­ment’s poor polling means strong, smart poli­cies are es­sen­tial as they head into the next elec­tion. This is not only a vote-win­ner but a clever way of boost­ing the econ­omy. It should be given ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to hap­pen.

Tak­ing us for fu­els

The Queens­land Gov­ern­ment needs to hold a petrol-pric­ing sum­mit to get to the bot­tom of the con­sumer rip-off be­ing plun­dered by oil com­pa­nies at the bowser. Bris­bane fuel prices have surged to the high­est of any cap­i­tal city in the coun­try. We’re even higher than Dar­win, where you would think the tyranny of dis­tance would send its fuel prices soar­ing past ours.

Clearly it’s Raf­ferty’s rules on how our fuel prices are set but the re­al­ity is we’re get­ting the raw end of the pineap­ple in the Sun­shine State. The cost of petrol af­fects ev­ery mo­torist. At a time when the econ­omy is slow­ing and cost-of-liv­ing pres­sures are con­stant, we need re­lief rather than be­ing taken for fools.

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