About five years ago, someone I know well, casually asked me why we still had our shitty Daewoo Nubira when we “clearly must be rolling in it, with me working and all?” and “shouldn’t we be able to just buy a new car outright with all the cash we must earn?” I was kind of caught off guard and I stuttered and spewed forth an answer that in all honesty, this person didn’t deserve. I manically tried to explain that we owned our cars and although they weren’t new, to get better ones would mean new loans. And with Sam needing Speech Pathology, paediatric care and basically, well, just life, we didn't really want to do that.
It wasn’t until I got home and dissected the conversation, did I realise that this mother of one, who had rarely worked, who didn’t have a mortgage and had recently been the recipient of a brand new car courtesy of daddy, had made me feel inferior for working. And had clearly made assumptions about my life.
But here’s the thing, two working in the family when you have children, doesn’t necessarily equate to coming out on top moneywise. It often just equals survival.
My personal situation is this: I work part time, between 3 and 4 days a week, spending one day with my
The amount we are subsidised for this child care each week is based on our income. Meaning that our daily fees are reduced by X amount from the Family Assistance Office, depending on joint taxable incomes. The amount you are able to be subsidised reduces when a certain level of income is achieved. To work out the exact level it reduces at however, would require you to master Centrelink Childcare Rates x Income x amount of children x the exact date sputnik was launched. Basically it should be taught at Uni as Centrelink Mindfuckery 101.
Then, at the end of every quarter, because I qualify (meaning I work, study or am training) I am refunded 50% of our out of pocket child care expenses. This at present, is not means tested.
This week however, the whispers have been getting louder that along with slashing Education and Health Care (Do not even get me started) that the child care rebate is about to be means tested. Meaning that, if you earn a certain total income, you may no longer be eligible for the 50% rebate.
So here’s what I imagine will happen. One half of the couple will probably either cut back or quit their job altogether, therefore ceasing to be a taxpayer. On the flip side however, Family Assistance will then step in and pay more in FTB A and B because of the income and the fact that there is now only one person working. Childcare will also be subsidised higher by Centrelink due to the fact that their joint income has gone down. So in essence, the government will not be saving themselves any money. In fact the only thing that will have changed here is that someone who was once gainfully and presumably, happily employed, is no longer a) paying taxes and b) where they wanted to be.
There are of course, many variations to this situation. Single parent families, single income families and to be honest, I'm not even sure these changes will affect our family.
And hey, I understand there has to be cutbacks. I get that we've just had major disasters on a scale never seen before. I also understand that these are my children and such, it was always my responsibility to budget for them. But life isn't that simple. These kids will be the ones paying the way in the future, they are necessary and to sustain them these days, and I'm not even talking about having a fancy lifestyle here, often both parents have to work. But making it more difficult for people to work, whether they have children or not, just does not make sense.
I know I am seeing this from my point of view, as a working parent, but hopefully I’ve pointed out here that we already penalise hard workers in Australia. The more you earn, the more you pay in tax. There is no incentive.
And hey, Mr Swan, you know that cash economy you guys are constantly trying to stamp out, yeah, this idea is not going to help you there.