OUTSPOKEN Wills MP Kelvin Thomson has gone against federal Labor policy and called for a complete scrapping of the baby bonus, suggesting the money would be better directed at education.
The government last week announced the baby bonus would be cut from $5000 to $3000 for second and subsequent children.
Families Minister Jenny Macklin said the cut-back recognised that the upfront costs families faced with first children were the most significant.
Mr Thomson, a backbencher in the Gillard government, has long raised concerns about the implications of Australia’s booming population and said the baby bonus was sending the wrong message to Australian families.
The previous Howard government announced a baby bonus in 2002. At that stage it was not means-tested, and it delivered $3000 per child.
By 2005, federal Treasurer Peter Costello was saying parents could have “one for mum, one for dad and one for the country”.
Mr Thomson said the baby bonus was a counter to his view that population growth needed to be kept in check. He said money cut from the scheme could be reinvested in tertiary and vocational education.
“There are twice the number of births than there are deaths each year and that has been the case for a while.
“There are also very high levels of migration. There will be 220,000 residents migrating to Australia this year. That equates to 4000 more people arriving in Australia than departing each week.
“In Melbourne, through migration, natural reasons and people moving form interstate, we are getting 1500 new residents a week.
“I can take seriously that we are short of housing, road infrastructure and hospital beds, but I don’t accept that we are short on people.”
Mr Thomson said other revenue streams could also be found to make tertiary and vocational education 100 per cent subsidised by the government.
“Norway does it and it works. [Former prime minister Gough] Whitlam did it in the ’70s and it worked then, too.”