In the 2004 budget, the then Treasurer Peter Costello urged Australia to have three children . . one for mum, one for dad and one for the country and for their troubles, each birth would be rewarded with a lump sum payment of $4258.00, affectionately dubbed "The Baby Bonus". Soon to be raised to $5,000 in July. (How many women expecting June babies will be crossing their legs until the 1st July? If you know an obstetrician, tell them not to plan a ski trip!) Not a bad incentive to indulge in a little pleasurable slap and tickle and then sagitate over 9 months planning on how to spend it.
Double your chances with twins or invitro-induced multiple births and you can earn a small fortune. The problem is, there is no stipulation on how you spend this 'bonus'. It is meant to be spent on the said ankle-biters. But Gerry Harvey of Harvey Norman has dubbed the payment the "Plasma Bonus" because it's boosted his business no end as young families spend it on plasma TV's and other high end electrical goods and computers. Clever little Snugglepots these newborns raping on Halo whilst they dribble in their mashed banana!
The revelation from one of Australia's biggest retailers comes as the Federal Government considers dramatic changes to the baby bonus scheme, effectively cancelling out the lump-sum arrangements currently in place. One proposal being examined would include 14 weeks' paid maternity leave rather than a lump sum payment to new mothers. This is particularly favoured for introduction to young parents under the age of 18 to ensure that the payment is spent judiciously on the child's welfare. But whilst the tabloid TV programs such as A Current Affair and This Day Tonight continue to plug stories of Janelle and Kylie having loads of kids to any Tom Dick or Bruce in order to claim the Baby Bonus are actually not quite hitting the mark.Oddly enough, it's the rich who are becoming the highest claimers of this untaxed, un-means and asset tested payment. High-income suburbs. The largest increase in baby bonus claims in NSW,140% in the last 4 years, came from couples in the exclusive Kirribilli and Milsons Point area, which has one of Australia's highest average household incomes. Yet the area's fertility rate has remained static since 2001 at about 1.2. As if they need it! I suppose it will pay for the Prada Pram and the Benetton booties and Sass and Bide singlets.
The largest number of payments are still being made to couples and single parents in poorer suburbs, where many people start a family -- yet more often than not those areas are registering fertility rates below the national average.I guess this proves that the baby bonus has nothing to do with fertility rates but simply a waste of taxpayer's money and an increase in middle-class welfare. It is supplemented also by a means tested 'family tax benefit' where parents receive a fortnightly payment for children up to the age of 18 and a small subsidy for daycare where the real dollars are needed so that mum can go to work and pay for the humongous mortgage.
Then again, if the cost of raising a child is $150,000 to age 18, $5,000 might as well be spent on a plasma screen . . it sure won't make a dent in the cost of raising a child.
Why we need to encourage parents to have more children, incur more debt, escapes me . . there's a perfectly reasonable solution . . .immigration . . . where we could encourage skilled labour into the country, improve services and productivity straight away, and have them hit the ground running!
OK maybe I'm being a bit bitter and twisted because I've had me bits cut out and can no longer conceive or act as an incubator to finance an overseas holiday. Or perhaps because there was never special parking for 'Mother's with a pram' next to the 'Disabled' bays when I was a Yummy Mummy. Perhaps I'm tasting sour grapes over the fact that my benefits were pitiful because I earned 2 cents over the income threshold.
Anyway it's Friday, my mood is better, I'm still in Coventry but hopeful, the weekend is upon us and it's warm and sunny. My dog didn't run away today, Adam's employed (whackadoo!) and Clare has ventured into English-speaking Miami, it's payday and because I've been living alone, I don't have to spend my weekend washing and cleaning . . .Have a good one folks . . .I can feel it in me waters . . .something good is gonna happen! (I love this clip more than the song! Terrence, touchy feely bit in the blue singlet is just for you!)