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A second letter to the Prime Minister

By Babette Francis - posted Thursday, 8 May 2014

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

You haven't replied to my Open Letter to you and Treasurer Hockey published in On Line Opinion on the 15th April - I understand that you are tremendously busy and cannot respond to everyone who is worried about the policy implications of your forthcoming Budget, but the rumour - and I hope it is only a rumour - that you intend to abolish Family tax Benefit Part B has deeply concerned us. You are to be commended for modifying your Paid Parental Leave policy, but it is still grossly discriminatory both as between career women and as against the full-time homemaker mother.

FTB part B was meant to rectify the unfairness created when a dual income household receives two tax-free thresholds.


When the Gillard government increased the thresholds from $6,000 to $18000 per annum, she did not increase FTB part B like she should have. So on top of other moves that discriminate against mother-care (e.g. child care rebates, child care allowances, paid parental leave, tax free threshold discrimination, axing of baby bonus and more, the suggestion to abolish one of the last remaining payments that helps full-time mothers is alarming.

I know you want to increase the revenue stream, Mr. Abbott, but are you really planning to do this at the expense of the nation's young babies? Are you or your Treasurer really going to stand up in Parliament and state that a six-month old baby is better off in long day care than being home and breast-fed by her mother?

In case you didn't know, here are the World Health Organisation guidelines on "Optimal infant feeding":

Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers. Review of evidence has shown that, on a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond....

Now how on earth can those mothers who want to breastfeed their infants for up to 2 years or beyond be able to do this if you require career mothers to re-enter the paid workforce in order to access their paid parental payment, and if you also deprive full-time mothers of the pittance they get in Family Tax Benefit part B which may enable them to exercise a choice to be home with their babies?

Here again is what the World Health Organisation says about Optimal Breastfeeding (i.e. exclusive breastfeeding for six months and breastfeeding with complementary foods for up to two years or beyond):


Optimal breastfeeding of infants under two years of age has the greatest potential impact on child survival of all preventive interventions, with the potential to prevent over 800,000 deaths (13 per cent of all deaths) in children under five in the developing world (Lancet 2013)

Breastfed children have at least six times greater chance of survival in the early months than non-breastfed children. An exclusively breastfed child is 14 times less likely to die in the first six months than a non-breastfed child, and breastfeeding drastically reduces deaths from acute respiratory infection and diarrhoea, two major child killers (Lancet 2008). The potential impact of optimal breastfeeding practices is especially important in developing country situations with a high burden of disease and low access to clean water and sanitation.

I know you might say that is in the developing world, but here's what WHO says about children in developed countries:

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About the Author

Babette Francis, (BSc.Hons), mother of eight, is the National & Overseas Co-ordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc. an NGO with special consultative status with the Economic & Social Council of the UN. Mrs. Francis is the Australian representative of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer - She lived in India during the Partition of the sub-continent into India and Pakistan, a historical event that she believes was caused by the unwillingness of the Muslim leaders of that era to live in a secular democracy.

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