Social Security payments for people caring for children, 1912-2008: a chronology

Updated 29 January 2009

Dale Daniels
Social Policy Section

Contents

Introduction
List of Acronyms
A Short History of Payments for Families
  Table 1: Payments for People Caring for Children, Recipient Numbers from 1942
Maternity Allowance 1912 to 1978 and 1996 to 2004, Maternity Immunisation Allowance from 1998, Maternity Payment from 2004
Child Endowment 1941 to 1976, Family Allowance 1976 to 1992, Basic Family Payment 1993 to 1995, Family Payment 1996 to 1998, Family Allowance 1998 to 2000 and Family Tax Benefit Part A from 2000
  Table 2: Maximum Rates of Child Endowment 1941 to 1976, Family Allowance 1976 to 1992 and Basic Family Payment 1993 to 1995
  Table 3: Rates of Family Payment, 1996 to 1998, Family Allowance 1998 to 2000 and Family Tax Benefit Part A & Part B from 2000
Widow Pension Class A 1942 to 1989
Child's Allowance/Additional Pension or Benefit for Children 1943 to 1993
  Table 4: Maximum Rates of Child's Allowance 1943 to 1963, Additional Pension for Children 1956 to 1992, Additional Benefit for Children 1945 to 1992, Family Income Supplement 1983 to 1987, Family Allowance Supplement 1987 to 1992 and Additional Family Payment 1993 to 1995
Mother's/Guardian's Allowance 1963 to 2000
  Table 5: Maximum Rate of Mother's/Guardian's Allowance, 1963 to 2000
Double Orphan's Pension from 1973
  Table 6: Maximum Rates of Double Orphan's Pension from 1973
Supporting Mother's Benefit 1973 to 1977 Supporting Parent's Benefit 1977 to 1989, Sole Parent's Pension 1989 to 1998
  Table 7: Maximum Weekly Rates of Pension for Sole Parents from 1942
  Table 8: Pension Means Tests Changes, from 1942
Family Income Supplement 1983 to 1987, Family Allowance Supplement 1987 to 1992, Additional Family Payment 1993 to 1995
Home Child Care Allowance 1994 to 1995, Parenting Allowance 1995 to 1998 and Parenting Payment from 1998
Family Tax Payment 1997 to 2000
Family Tax Benefit Part B from 2000
Child Care Benefit from 2000
Child Care Tax Rebate from 2004

 


Introduction

This is one of a series of chronologies dealing with the history of Social Security Payments produced by the Research Branch. The other chronologies in the series are:

Social Security Payments for the Aged, those with Disabilities and Carers, 1909 to 2008: A Chronology

Social Security Payments for The Unemployed, the Sick and those in Special Circumstances, 1945 to 2008: A Chronology

Payments for sole parents are included in this document and those for widowed people in the document dealing with payments for those in special circumstances.

The Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) makes, or has made in the past, a number of payments for children and child carers. This paper provides a short history of the development of these payments and a chronology of changes to each payment from their introduction to the present day.

The date from which measures take effect has been used to date changes. This means that certain measures which may have taken effect under one Government may have actually been legislated for under the previous Government. Where changes have been recently announced but not passed into law by the Parliament, they are placed according to the expected date of effect. Many changes that appear at the time of updating to be of minor importance and small administrative modifications to payments have not been included.

Rates of payment are generally not given in the text, but can be found in the tables. In the text, imperial currency is used until 1966 and decimal currency is used after that date. In the tables decimal currency is used throughout.

Note on Sources and further reading

In addition to the Commonwealth Budget Papers and Social Security legislation, the following publications have been used in the preparation of this paper:

Department of Social Security, Annual Report, various

Department of Family and Community Services, Annual Report, various

Department of Social Security, Developments in social security: a compendium of legislative changes since 1908, Research and Statistics Branch Research Paper no. 20, Canberra, 1983

Kewley, T. H., Social security in Australia 1900-72, Sydney University Press, Sydney, 1973

Kewley, T. H., Australian social security today: major developments from 1900 to 1978, Sydney University Press, Sydney, 1980.


List of Acronyms

AB

Additional Benefit for Children

AFP

Additional Family Payment

ALP

Australian Labor Party

AP

Additional Pension for Children

BFP

Basic Family Payment

CA

Child's Allowance

CCB

Child Care Benefit

CE

Child Endowment

CPI

Consumer Price Index

DOP

Double Orphan's Pension

DSS

Department of Social Security

FA

Family Allowance

FAS

Family Allowance Supplement

FIS

Family Income Supplement

FP

Family Payment

FTBA

Family Tax Benefit Part A

FTBB

Family Tax Benefit Part B

FTP

Family Tax Payment

GST

Goods and Services Tax

HCCA

Home Child Care Allowance

IRS

Information and Research Services

JSA

Job Search Allowance

LCP

Liberal Party - Country Party Coalition

LNCP

Liberal Party - National Country Party Coalition
(Liberal Party - National Party Coalition from October 1982)

MA

Maternity Allowance

MAT Maternity Payment

MGA

Mother's/Guardian's Allowance

MIA

Maternity Immunisation Allowance

Nat-CP

Nationalist - Country Party Coalition

NSA

Newstart Allowance

PA

Partner Allowance

PgA

Parenting Allowance

PP

Parenting Payment

RA

Rent Assistance

SA

Sickness Allowance

SB

Sickness Benefit

SMB

Supporting Mother's Benefit

SpB

Special Benefit

SPB

Supporting Parent's Benefit

SPP

Sole Parent Pension

UAP-CP

United Australia Party - Country Party Coalition

UB

Unemployment Benefit

WPa

Widow Pension Class A

WPb

Widow Pension Class B

WPc

Widow Pension Class C

YA

Youth Allowance


A Short History of Payments for Families

The First Step

Financial assistance to families with children was first introduced by the Fisher Government in October 1912. It took the form of a Maternity Allowance of five pounds (over two weeks wages for an unskilled worker) paid without a means test to both married and unmarried mothers. The measure was presented as an anti-poverty measure paid as a universal payment to avoid the stigma of charity. A similar payment had been introduced in 1911 in the UK, but it had been less generous and insurance based. The allowance received considerable public support and was claimed automatically in practically all cases of confinement by the late 1920s. It survived the cost cutting by Government during the Depression but was paid at a lower rate and subject to a means test from 1931 until 1943. The allowance was eventually abolished in 1978 by which time other child payments were considered to have made it unnecessary.

Recognising the Costs of Children

The introduction of a form of child endowment was a subject of political debate during the inter-war years both in Australia and the UK. Finally in 1941 the Menzies Government introduced a payment of five shillings per week for each child in a family after the first. A similar payment was not introduced in the UK until 1945. The introduction of child endowment dovetailed with the view expressed by the Chief Judge of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration when delivering the judgement in the Basic Wage Enquiry 1940-41 that the basic wage was only adequate for a family of three. The new payment was also used to justify the deferment of any increase in the basic wage for six months. Eligibility for Child Endowment was extended to the first child in a family in 1950 by which time the original rationale based on the basic wage had ceased to hold sway.

Further payments for children of invalid pensioners and beneficiaries were introduced during the war years (child allowance in 1943 and Additional Benefit in 1945) to assist with the support of the first or unendowed children of pensioners and beneficiaries. The rate of Widow Pension when introduced in 1942 was also adjusted to cater for the maintenance of one child. In 1950 when Child Endowment began to be paid to all children it was paid in addition to these other child payments. Between 1956 and 1965 these payments were extended to all children of pensioners and beneficiaries and paid in addition to the Child Endowment.

Table 1 shows trends in the numbers of recipients of child endowment and other payments added later.

The Introduction of Widow Pensions

Income support for widows and some sole parents was introduced in 1942 by the Curtin Government. Curtin had included a commitment to introduce pensions for widows in his 1940 election campaign policy speech. This form of income support had been included in most proposals from all sides of politics to expand the Commonwealth's involvement in income support since age and invalid pensions were introduced in 1909 and 1910 respectively. Unlike widow pensions introduced in the UK in 1925 and the USA in 1939, the Australian widow pension was not a contributory insurance-based payment and was therefore available to all widows who qualified under the means test. The structure of the new payment was drawn from the report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Social Security which had been asked in 1941 by the Menzies Government to inquire into widow pensions. Consequently the legislation received bipartisan support.

By the 1940s considerable numbers of widows were in need of assistance. The 1947 Census counted 134 766 widows under 60 years of age. (Sole parents who were not widows were not counted at that time.) Many of these widows were eligible for war widow pensions but sufficient sole parents and other civilian widows were in financial need to push the numbers receiving Social Security Widow Pensions up to approximately 40 000 by 1950.

From the beginning the name of the payment was misleading. It was designed to assist women who had lost a partner and could not be expected to engage in employment due to child care responsibilities or age. Not all women in this category were eligible. De facto widows, deserted wives, divorced women and women whose husbands were in institutions for the insane were included but single mothers, wives of prisoners, women deserted by de facto husbands and women who had deserted their husband or agreed to separate were excluded. These exclusions reflected the influence on legislators of contemporary moral standards as did the requirement that pensioners be of 'good character' and 'deserving of a pension'. The result was the exclusion of many sole parents from eligibility. An indication of the public attitude to such assistance can be found in the protests from some conservative women's groups about the provision of assistance to de facto widows. Such assistance was condemned as encouraging adultery and undermining the institution of marriage.

Three types of Widow Pension were introduced in 1942. Widows with children were given a Class A pension while they had a dependent child. Those without children were given a Class B pension until retirement age if they were aged 50 years or older. Those without children and not old enough for a Class B pension were given a Class C pension for 26 weeks immediately after the death of their husband. Only Class A pensions for widows with children are covered in this publication.

Family Allowances Replace Tax Allowances for Children

When Child Endowment was introduced, the Curtin Government abolished tax concessions for children to prevent wealthier parents gaining more assistance than parents ineligible for tax concessions. However concessions were reintroduced to the tax system. The monetary value of these concessions grew during the 1950s and 1960s while Child Endowment was eroded by inflation. The 1975 Henderson Poverty Inquiry Final Report recommended the abolition of tax concessions and an increase in the rate of Child Endowment especially for large families in order to redirect assistance to the poorest families. In 1976 the Fraser Government acted on this recommendation by abolishing tax concessions and introducing Family Allowance. The new payment was the same as Child Endowment in most respects but was paid at much higher rates. This was possible because revenue savings from abolishing tax concessions for children were used to increase expenditure on Family Allowance by 300 per cent when compared to expenditure on Child Endowment.

Assistance Extended to Sole Parents

Single women with children who were not eligible for Widow Pension because they were deserted wives who had not been deserted for six months, or who had not been married, or in a de facto relationship for the required three years, were given varying amounts of assistance by state government payments. In 1968 the Gorton Government began to partially fund that assistance under the States Grants (Deserted Wives) Act 1968. This form of assistance was the main income support for this growing group who were not catered for by the Widow Pension. Commonwealth expenditure under this Act increased from $1.9m in 1969-70 to $9.7m in 1972-73. Sole parents numbered 124 000 at the time of the 1966 Census. Their numbers had grown to 183 100 in 1974 when the first ABS Family Survey was conducted.

The Whitlam Government introduced the Supporting Mother's Benefit in 1973 to provide support for single mothers who were not being adequately catered for by existing arrangements. The rate of payment for this benefit was the same as for pensions in spite of the name it was given. Eligibility for Supporting Mother's Benefit did not commence until six months after the date of separation or birth of a child. As a result the States continued to provide assistance to single mothers until 1980 when immediate eligibility was introduced by the Fraser Government. That Government also extended eligibility to male sole parents and renamed the payment Supporting Parent's Benefit in 1977. By 1980 DSS payments were finally available to all categories of sole parents.

Targeting Low Income Working Families

The effectiveness of Family Allowance as a means of redistributing income to low income and larger families was severely eroded by the high inflation of the late 1970s and early 1980s in the absence of indexation. In 1982 the Fraser Government passed legislation for a new payment called Family Income Supplement (FIS) which commenced in May 1983 after the Hawke Government had been elected. This type of payment was new to Australia because it was directed at low income working families with the objective of ensuring that low income working families could receive more while in employment than when unemployed. This was achieved by giving them entitlement to the equivalent of additional benefit for children.

FIS proved to be too limited a payment with a limited take up rate. Against a background of increasing concern over the extent of child poverty the Hawke Government made a commitment during the 1987 election campaign that by 1990 no Australian child would live in poverty. The main means employed to fulfil this commitment was a reworking of the system of income tested child payments. Rates of payment increased considerably, Rent Assistance was made available to low income working families and FIS was renamed Family Allowance Supplement and the income test was made more generous. Further development of family payments continued under the Hawke and Keating Governments. The main developments were indexation of rates, assets testing, the amalgamation of Family Allowance Supplement with Additional Pension and Benefit to form Additional Family Payment and the merging of Basic and Additional Family Payment to form Family Payment.

The Rationalisation of Pensions for Sole Parent Families

The reform of Widow Pensions continued in 1989 with the amalgamation of Widow Pension Class A and Supporting Parent's Benefit. The new payment was called Sole Parent Pension. The two payments had over time become almost identical and catered for essentially the same group. The demise of the Widow Pension marked the end of a transition from payments for 'respectable' widows with a few categories of less reputable sole parents hidden under the umbrella term Widow Pension, to payments based on the objective fact of sole parenthood.

New Payments for Two Parent Families

During the 1993 election campaign the Keating Government committed itself to introduce a Home Child Care Allowance to provide a source of independent income for women caring for children at home. This payment effectively replaced the tax rebate for dependent spouses with children. The payment was set at a level which was a slight increase on the value of the rebate but it was payable on a fortnightly basis. This allowed parents who were out of the work force for periods as short as a fortnight to qualify. The rebate had been inaccessible to parents who had earned even modest amounts during a financial year. Home Child Care Allowance was absorbed within a new payment within a year of its introduction. It became the basic component of a new Parenting Allowance in 1995. This new payment which was first announced in the Working Nation statement of 1994, was paid to the parent caring for children in low income families, irrespective of whether their spouse was working or in receipt of an income support payment.

During 1994 the Keating Government also committed itself to introduce a form of paid maternity leave in the spirit of ILO convention number 103 as part of the Accord Mark 7 agreement with the ACTU. In 1996 Maternity allowance was reintroduced as a lump sum payment equivalent to six weeks of Parenting Allowance.

Payments for Parents Simplified

In 1998 the Sole Parent Pension and the Parenting Allowance were amalgamated to form a single payment for people caring for children. The new payment called Parenting Payment was a tentative move towards simplification of the growing range of payments for families. Many of the distinctions between the two superseded payments were maintained in order to avoid reduced assistance for sole parents or the increased cost that a single set of rates and eligibility criteria would involve.

Family Assistance Simplified

Simplification of the structure of family payments was carried further in 2000 when a range of payments, child-care fee subsidies and tax concessions for families with children were replaced by three payments. The introduction in 1997 of the Family Tax Initiative, while directing extra assistance to families, did further increase the complexity of the system. The need for simplification was clear.

The new Family Tax Benefit provided income tested assistance for each dependent child (Part A) plus a payment for parents who stayed at home to care for children (Part B). Child Care Benefit brought the two existing child care fee subsidies into one payment.

Timed to coincide with the introduction of a Goods and Services Tax, these reforms also involved an element of compensation for the effects of that tax on families with children and an attempt to reduce poverty traps for low and middle income families.

Payments for Parents and Welfare to Work Reforms

In 2003 participation requirements were introduced for Parenting Payment recipients with a youngest child of high school age. This move was prompted by concerns that parents should be encouraged to retrain and reattach to the workforce. The eligibility criteria and paticipation requirements for Parenting Payment underwent major changes in 2006. As part of a broader set of Welfare to Work reforms, eligibility for new applicants for Parenting Payment was restricted to those with a youngest child aged less than eight years of age if single or six years of age if partnered. Those who would formerly been eligible were now eligible for Newstart Allowance but with a requirement to look for part-time work only. Participation requirements for those remaining on Parenting Payment were also increased.

Table 1: Payments for People caring for Children Recipient Numbers from 1942

Part A: 1942-1975

 

Child Endowment (a)

Sole parents
and widows payments (b)

At June

Families

Children

Recipients

1942

487 674

909 847

-

1943

491 121

908 159

16 214

1944

503 140

921 973

16 107

1945

518 293

938 543

15 284

1946

533 819

964 531

15 707

1947

559 730

1 006 557

16 702

1948

586 415

1 050 357

17 732

1949

620 819

1 105 299

17 891

1950

662 949

1 836 322

17 760

1951

1 150 847

2 388 930

17 717

1952

1 205 421

2 517 869

17 424

1953

1 246 986

2 623 977

17 980

1954

1 280 439

2 716 974

18 100

1955

1 304 227

2 788 561

18 683

1956

1 339 807

2 875 664

19 511

1957

1 378 169

2 978 191

20 648

1958

1 415 378

3 073 945

20 970

1959

1 451 516

3 171 823

22 296

1960

1 476 835

3 252 413

23 240

1961

1 501 180

3 340 302

24 491

1962

1 523 074

3 420 134

24 584

1963

1 535 388

3 457 620

25 261

1964

1 555 630

3 631 047

27 371

1965

1 582 801

3 710 616

29 713

1966

1 610 490

3 762 646

31 796

1967

1 640 390

3 834 917

34 526

1968

1 669 390

3 890 853

35 899

1969

1 701 914

3 996 042

38 038

1970

1 749 734

4 079 378

44 064

1971

1 797 628

4 155 930

47 146

1972

1 843 478

4 234 500

49 811

1973

1 870 638

4 238 882

57 872

1974

1 889 070

4 260 739

90 370

1975

1 915 818

4 283 516

102 533

Part B: From 1976

.

Basic rate of family assistance (c)

More than basic rate of family assistance (d)

Sole parent payments (e)

Partnered parent payments (f)

At June

Families

Children

Families

Children

Recipients

Recipients

1976

1 935 596

4 292 690

-

369 900

116 551

-

1977

2 051 673

4 302 344

-

426 900

127 013

-

1978

2 070 864

4 304 270

-

475 000

139 825

-

1979

2 059 921

4 230 642

-

494 200

151 181

-

1980

2 073 778

4 223 851

-

524 800

161 567

-

1981

2 092 225

4 227 164

-

576 400

194 468

-

1982

2 120 561

4 254 474

-

628 200

208 742

-

1983

2 155 714

4 303 289

-

830 000

224 489

-

1984

2 179 152

4 325 964

-

843 400

234 765

-

1985

2 191 191

4 323 474

-

854 100

246 295

-

1986

2 153 670

4 191 373

-

862 744

250 910

-

1987

2 136 668

4 125 159

-

876 233

248 907

-

1988

1 948 234

3 806 237

-

1 121 438

238 656

-

1989

1 927 015

3 760 462

550 904

1 135 242

239 469

-

1990

1 890 859

3 672 525

563 996

1 142 593

248 886

-

1991

1 911 196

3 699 446

635 680

1 275 771

265 720

-

1992

1 929 508

3 720 088

772 731

1 495 493

287 228

-

1993

1 933 696

3 724 408

810 219

1 623 943

298 444

-

1994

1 827 861

3 538 999

841 894

1 683 050

313 437

-

1995

1 804 118

3 486 316

836 590

1 671 372

324 941

-

1996

1 812 457

3 497 467

883 934

1 759 144

342 290

237 321

1997

1 811 745

3 491 160

918 538

1 821 230

358 893

239 317

1998

1 775 663

3 418 865

909 223

1 799 427

372 286

236 550

1999

1 773 185

3 441 194

926 315

1 770 622

384 821

227 677

2000

1 741 152

3 358 741

908 870

1 787 233

396 779

-

2001(g)

1 801 285

3 485 923

1 041 782

2 078 645

424 610

216 637

2002(g)

1 794 848

3 471 130

1 051 906

2 096 136

427 846

191 576

2003(g)

1 783 278

3 446 032

1 042 717

2 073 146

436 958

181 405

2004(g)
1 807 122
3 499 686
1 039 362
2 058 392
449 312
177 157
2005(g)
1 828 261
3 543 435
1 147 833
2 306 573
449 000
167 000
2006(g)
1 811 827
3 521 874
1 114 461
2 242 798
433 370
159 719
2007(g)
1 769 091
3 447 535
1 150 905
2 319 035
395 495
144 427
2008(g)
1 734 000
3 384 000
1 121 000
2 265 000
360 600
125 900

Notes:
(a) Child Endowment families data for 1964 to 1976 does not include those with students aged 16 to 21 only.
(b) Includes Widow Pension Class A from 1942 and Supporting Mothers Benefit from 1973.
(c) Includes Family Allowance 1976 to 1992, Basic Family Payment 1993 to 1995, minimum rate of Family payment 1996 to 1998, minimum rate of Family Allowance 1998 to 2000 and at least base rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A from 2000.
(d) Children for whom more than the basic rate was paid would also have received the basic rate, and are therefore counted under both headings. Includes Additional Pension or Benefit for Children 1976 to 1992, Family Income Supplement 1983 to 1987, Family Allowance Supplement 1988 to 1992, Additional Family Payment 1993 to 1995, more than minimum rate of Family Payment 1996 to 1998, more than minimum rate of Family Allowance 1998 to 2000 and more than base rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A from 2000. Data for Childs Allowance and Additional Pension and Benefit for 1943 to 1975 are not publicly available. Payments for children of Special beneficiaries are not included prior to 1993.
(e) Includes Supporting Mothers Benefit 1976 to 1977, Supporting Parents Benefit 1977 to 1989, Widow Pension Class A 1976 to 1989, Sole Parent Pension 1989 to 1998 and Parenting Payment (Single) from 1998.
(f) Includes Parenting Allowance 1996 to 1998, Parenting Payment (Partnered) from 1998. Prior to 1996 payments for partnered parents were paid as part of income support for their spouses. No data on the numbers involved is available.
(g) Family Tax Benefit data does not include payments made through the Australian Taxation Office.

Maternity Allowance 1912 to 1978, and 1996 to 2004, Maternity Immunisation Allowance from 1998, Maternity Payment from 2004, Baby Bonus from 2007

Commencement Date

Details

Government at Commencement

Original Enabling Legislation:

Maternity Allowance Act 1912 (No. 8 of 1912)

Social Security Legislation Amendment (Family Measures) Bill 1995

1912

From October Maternity Allowance (MA) was introduced at the rate of five pounds. It was paid on the birth of a child, except where the mother was an Asiatic or an Aboriginal of Australia, Papua or the Pacific islands. MA was not subject to a means test and was not taxable; only one allowance was paid where multiple births occurred.

Fisher, ALP

1926

From August the eligibility conditions were rephrased to exclude aliens rather than Asiatics.

Bruce-Page, Nat-CP

1931

From July the Financial Emergency Act reduced the rate of MA to four pounds. An income test on MA was introduced. No MA was payable where the joint income of the family exceeded 260 pounds per year.

Scullin, ALP

1932

From October the amount of permissible income was reduced to 208 pounds per year.

 

1934

From August the Financial Relief Act liberalised the income test and modified the rate structure of MA. Where the mother had other children MA was increased by five shillings for each child under 14 years of age, to a maximum of five pounds. The permissible income limit was also increased: the limit of 208 pounds per year increased by 13 pounds for each child in the family after the first, to a ceiling of 299 pounds.

Lyons, UAP-CP

1936

From September the minimum MA was increased to 4 pounds 10 shillings and the system of graduated payments was eliminated, except for an extra 10 shillings where there was more than one child. The permissible income limit was increased to 221 pounds per year where there was only one child, rising to a ceiling of 312 pounds where there were other children.

 

1937

From December the rate structure of MA was restored. The new rates were, 4 pounds 10 shillings for the first child; 5 pounds where there were one or two other children; 7 pounds 10 shillings where there were three or more other children. The permissible income limit was increased to 247 pounds per year where there was one child, rising to a ceiling of 338 pounds per year where there were other children.

 

1942

From July eligibility was extended to Aboriginal women who were exempted from State laws relating to the control of Aboriginal natives and who were considered suitable to receive MA.

Curtin, ALP

1943

From July the income test was abolished. MA was increased to 15 pounds where there were no other children under the age of 14 years; 16 pounds where there were one or two other children; and 17 pounds 10 shillings in cases of three or more children. These amounts included an additional allowance of 25 shillings per week in respect of the period four weeks before and four weeks after the birth, to be paid after the birth.

 

1947

From July

  • A prepayment of MA of five pounds could be made up to four weeks before the expected date of delivery.
  • Rather than separate rates for twins and so on, the Act was amended to provide for an allowance of five pounds for each child in excess of one born from a single confinement.

Eligibility was extended to a mother who was an alien if she had 12 months residence.

Chifley, ALP

1956

From October the amount of MA that could be paid prior to the birth of the child was increased to 10 pounds.

Menzies, Lib-CP

1959

From September restrictions on the payment of MA to Aborigines were removed.

 

1978

The provisions for MA were repealed. No MA was payable for births occurring after 31 October 1978.

Fraser, Lib-NCP

1996

From February MA was reintroduced. MA was paid at a rate equivalent to six weeks of Parenting Allowance (PgA) for each child born. Initially the rate was $840.60. It was also paid for still-born children, adopted new-born children and children who died soon after birth. Families who met the Basic Family Payment income and assets test were eligible. MA was tax free.

Keating, ALP

1998

From January a portion of MA was renamed Maternity Immunisation Allowance (MIA). It was paid in respect of children who had reached the age of 18 months and who had received age-appropriate immunisation (unless the child was exempt from that requirement). MIA was also paid in respect of children who were stillborn or died before reaching the age of 18 months. The rate of MIA was $200 and the adjusted rate of MA was $750.

Howard, Lib-NP

2000

From July the rate of MA rose to $780 and the rate of MIA to $208. These rate rises were part of the compensation package for the impact of the introduction of a Goods and Services Tax (GST) in July 2000.

 
2004

From July MA and the First Child Tax Refund (administered by the Australian Taxation Office) were replaced by Maternity Payment (MAT). The First Child Tax Refund (also refered to as the Baby Bonus at the time) was introduced in 2002 and provided tax refunds of up to $2500 per annum for five years for mothers after the birth of their first child.

MAT was paid as a lump sum of $3000 for each newborn child and each child adopted at less than 26 weeks of age. No means test applied. The rate of payment was scheduled to increase to $4000 in July 2006 and to $5000 in July 2008.The rate of MAT was indexed in March and June of each year.

MIA was made income test free.

 
2005 From July MAT was paid for adopted children under the age of 2 years.  
2006 From July the rate of MAT was increased to $4000 as prescribed in the initail legislation. Indexation continued to occur after this rate increase.  
2007

From July MAT was renamed Baby Bonus (BB). This was a name change only.

From 17 August BB was paid in 13 fortnightly instalments to people who were subject to the income management regime. Under this regime income support payments and family assistance payments could be partially or wholely withheld from recipients and provided in such a way as to ensure that the money could only be spent on certain approved goods and services.This quarantining of payments was applied to people in receipt of income support where their children were at risk of neglect. Where this regime applied the BB payments in their entirety were subject to quarantining.

 
2008 From July indexation of BB was changed from twice yearly indexation in March and September to annual indexation in July. Rudd, ALP
2009

From January BB was income tested so that families with an estimated adjusted taxable income of more than $75 000 in the six months after the birth of the child were no longer eligible. This threshold was indexed in July each year. BB could be claimed up to 52 weeks after the birth of the child.

BB was paid to all claimants as 13 fortnightly payments.

BB could be paid to adopting parents for adopted children who were up to 15 years of age (an increase from the previous limit of 2 years of age).

MIA was changed into two equal payments payed when children met the 18 month and 4 year old immunisation requirements. It was also paid for children adopted from overseas who were up to 15 years of age and who met the immunisation requirements after arrival in Australia.

 

 

 

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