Social Services Minister Christian Porter should dump plans to cut the income of most single breadwinner families by more than $54 a week, say two prominent Catholic agency leaders.
The chief executives of the Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations, Brian Lawrence, and Catholic Social Services Australia, Marcelle Mogg, said the Coalition Government should not be taking Family Tax Benefit Part B (FTB B) from low and middle income families with school age children.
A 2014 budget proposal, which is still before the Senate, would withdraw payment of FTB B from low and middle income families with school age children.
FTB B is a government payment to assist families with one main income and single parents with the costs of raising their children, and was originally part of taxation architecture to replace the living (male) wage.
“The proposal discriminates against couple parent families and would leave them and their children at a lower standard of living,” Mr Lawrence said.
“In the case of single breadwinner couple families with two children aged eight and twelve, where the breadwinner is on the national minimum wage of $656.90 a week, they would lose 9.2 per cent of their net wage.
“Where the breadwinner is on the base trade-qualified wage rate of $764.90 a week, they would lose 8.1 per cent of their net wage.”
“FTB B is paid mainly to women. This proposal is inherently discriminatory against women because it would deprive them of income while they are absent from the workforce and raising children.”
Ms Mogg concurred: “FTB B helps parents make an effective choice as to how they will balance work and family responsibilities.”
“If implemented, the proposal would place economic pressure on couple parent families to abandon plans to have one of them stay at home to care for their children.
“In sole parent families, it would place more financial pressure on the parent to work more hours than they have had to in the past.”
Mr Lawrence said the proposed reduction contradicted prevailing policy logic, saying the social safety net would require increases in low income safety net wages and reverse the practice in recent decades of limiting wage increases by reason of successive increases in the social safety net.