Next Sunday, 11 May 2014, is Mother’s Day. I was planning to do a big article in appreciation of mothers, but that plan was shelved on Friday morning after I received a breathless phone call from my friend Luke McCormack of the Australian Family Association. Luke wanted to tell me about the current government’s new attack on motherhood.
I was devastated to hear the news. Let me explain. The new Commission of Audit, appointed by the Abbott government has proposed a list of cost savings which have the strong likelihood of being implemented in the new Budget to be released on Monday 13 May in Parliament House Canberra.
We all know that we Australians have been living beyond our means and many of the proposed cuts and savings measures are justified, but today I want to focus on just one of the proposals that I believe is a direct attack on mother care and therefore on mothers themselves. Unfortunately the previous government did waste a lot of money but the primary producers of our nation’s wealth are mothers, and it makes economic sense to look after them.
Sadly Treasurer Joe Hockey looks set to further demean motherhood by following the recommendation of the Commission of Audit by removing the Family Tax Benefit Part B, on the grounds that this is middle class welfare that is no longer needed. To understand why this is so wrong you have to understand the history of the Family Tax Benefit Part B.
Up until 1980 Australia had a very equitable tax system. There was an implicit unspoken recognition of the contribution mothers made to our nation’s wealth through the birth and nurture of our greatest natural asset, our children.
Unfortunately under the Fraser Government a big mistake was made. All tax deductions for the birth and raising of children were removed and replaced by a cash payment called a ‘Family Allowance’. This process was means tested and exacerbated by the Keating Government and with the introduction of the GST under the Howard Government in 2000 it became Family Tax Benefit B.
Let me repeat “mothers are the primary producers of Australia’s wealth”. Mothers produce children and children are our nation’s greatest asset. Our children become the future workers, inventors, innovators and business owners who create the wealth of the nation. Our children are not only wealth creators but they provide the future taxation base for the government’s ongoing ability to provide services.
Are mothers and the care mothers provide for our children appreciated? The short answer is “no” if you look at the way the government is trying to force mothers back into the workforce as Angela Shanahan so ably points out. Dr Peter Cook shows in ‘Mothering Denied’ just how our culture harms our children and families by demeaning motherhood.
Children are conceived in a mother’s womb. Mothers go through 9 months of sacrifice and discomfort to bear our children for us. But the sacrifice doesn’t stop there. Not only is the birth process itself full of pain (I should know because I was present at each of the births of my five children), but as the steak knife salesman said, “Wait, there’s more”.
That same mother has to feed that same baby, at all hours of the night, for anywhere between 6 months to 18 months, but wait there’s more: dirty nappies, vomit, mess, tantrums, lack of sleep, lost promotions, and the list goes on and on and on and on, and why? – because a mother’s love is epitomised by the word ‘sacrifice’.
Think of it this way: no more children mean no roads, no hospitals, no education system, no unemployment benefits and no old age pensions. Every nation needs 2.1 children per mother and father, just to have a sustainable population. Unfortunately Australia is going backwards when it comes to birth rates. In 1961 Australia’s birth rate was 3.55 per mother and father but by 2001 Australia’s birth rate had plummeted to 1.73 children per mother and father.
The need to avert a future economic catastrophe was crystallised in the words of Treasurer Peter Costello’s exhortation in the 2004 Budget to the mothers and fathers of Australia, to have ‘two for yourselves and one extra child for the country’. Peter Costello put his money where his mouth was with the introduction of the baby bonus to help reward mothers for their sacrifice in boosting the national economy. Unfortunately the Labor Government axed this encouragement for mothers in 2013.
Now we have an Abbott Government wanting to give Aussie mums the mother’s day present from hell. Here are four reasons why the axing of the Family Benefits Part B is bad policy for mothers, families and children.
1. Mothers rely on Family Tax Benefit part B to make ends meet. Family Tax Benefit part B was introduced to bring some recompense/justice for a one-income family that only enjoys one tax-free threshold. In the vast majority of cases the money is paid to the mother.
2. Family Tax Benefit part B should be INCREASED, not abolished, because dual income homes have $36,000 tax free income compared to only $18,000 for a single income home.
3. The 32.6% of mothers who have three or more children and who heeded Peter Costello’s call to have an extra child to help Australia’s economy will suffer the most with the abolition of Family Tax Benefit B. The great majority of these mothers are not in paid work and do most of the child-raising (56%) in Australia.
4. Abolition of the Family Tax Benefit Part B by the Coalition will signal the start of the Abbott Government’s war on motherhood.
Please use this link to send an email to all the Liberal/National Coalition Members of Parliament and tell them what you believe. Mothers are important. Mothers are the primary wealth producers in our nation. Government policy should support mothers not hurt them. Family Tax Benefit B should not be abolished because it is helping mothers carry on their noble work for the children of Australia.
You can even ring Prime Minister, Tony Abbott’s office direct (02) 6277 7700 and tell him yourself.
Yours for supporting the Mothers of Australia
PS. Don’t forget to honour your own mother and the mother of your children in the lead up to Mother’s Day next week on Sunday 11 May.