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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