Social policy takes centre stage

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The major parties have turned the focus to social policy with Labor offering $500 early payment of the baby bonus, while the Liberal party focuses on seniors in the workforce.

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According to Labor parents of newborns will be able to receive a $500 early payment of their baby bonus, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced.

From July 2011, eligible parents will receive a larger, more flexible advance on their Family Tax Benefit entitlement.

Under the previous Howard government’s original baby bonus scheme new parents were given a lump sum payment of $5000, but the Rudd government changed the method of payment to fortnightly instalments.

If Labor is re-elected, $500 would be paid upfront in addition to the first instalment payment.

The first payment would be $868 with the remainder to be paid by way of 12 subsequent fortnightly payments of $368.

The overall amount of the bonus will remain the same, presently at $5294.

The program will cost $54.4 million over four years which Ms Gillard says will be offset with savings measures.

Ms Gillard said Labor had done the right thing by changing the baby bonus from one-off to staggered payments.

“We were concerned, as many social welfare agencies and charities around the country became concerned, about the impact of the one-off payment on young people,” she said.

Abbott offers incentives to employers

Tony Abbott says the Coalition’s plan to offer incentive payments to employers to take on older workers will help the economy.

The opposition leader says that under a Coalition government businesses will receive payments of up to $3,250 for employing a worker over 50 on benefits.

Mr Abbott says older people are a social and cultural asset and his senior employment incentive payment planned for mid-2011 will make them an economic asset as well.