Two years ago Treasurer Peter Costello urged Australians to go home and produce “one for Mum, one for Dad and one for the country”. The nation was greeted the following morning with newspaper headlines of “Go forth and multiply”.
I’m afraid I wasn’t exactly over enthused with the thought of entertaining, with my wife, the notion back then of producing a playmate for our eight-year-old daughter and eleven-year-old son - besides Rhonda just wouldn’t have been interested in changing our original family dimension for the sake of an exuberant treasurer. I would love to have had five children to replicate the composition of my immediate family or ten like Rhonda’s clan - but times have changed.
The 2006 budget did provide sweeteners for families with a new child-friendly regime bringing a cash injection to around half a million more families that will cost the country about $993 million over four years. In real terms, after July 1, children will be valued (Costello speak) at around $4,200 a piece; those with three will also now be deemed to have a large family and win a slice of the “Large Family Supplement” providing about 350,000 families with an extra $248 a year.
Now that all sounds very sanitised but probably has the effect of providing a temporary warm fuzzy feeling for your average mum and dad. Perhaps Costello and Howard slept soundly on budget night believing their own publicity that Mr and Mrs Smith, from middle suburbia and rural townships, would endorse their spin and be grateful for their consideration and generosity - even though the family tax offering is nothing more than the Smith’s taxes returning like a boomerang in a reduced form.
But where in the budget is there anything of substance to address the needs of the most destitute members of our community: Aboriginal women and children? Some Indigenous mothers, grandmothers, aunties and sisters watch on helplessly while their smallest and most vulnerable members are sexually abused by pedophiles living unchallenged in their communities.
Where in the $36.7 billion budget is there anything remotely resembling an allocation of funds for programs that address child abuse? More specifically - where is there money allocated to enable state and federal police to work co-operatively to rid our communities of child predators?
I know there was $19.6 billion extra for the defence forces; $2.2 billion to buy four new C-17 heavy lift aircraft; $250 million for defence force recruitment and retention; $8.1 million for national security including a big boost for ASIO; and $289 million to combat illegal fishing.
Back in March, ABC News reported, “there has been a significant rise in the number of allegations of child abuse in Western Australia”.
The Department for Community Development said the number of reported incidents in the state increased by 33 per cent in 2005, compared to the previous year. The strongest rise identified was in the Murchison and the Goldfields, with allegations of abuse almost doubling.
Department spokeswoman Leah Bonson says the increase of alleged offences is a direct result of the recommendations from the Gordon Inquiry (2002) into child abuse in Aboriginal communities.
"Because we've put out a lot of resources, we've had a lot more people coming forth and it's not just Aboriginal families, but it's the whole community and that's been quite positive," she said.
The Pilbara reported the lowest increase, at 16 per cent, with the south-west 68 per cent, the Wheatbelt 31 per cent, Great Southern 56 per cent and Kimberley 22 per cent.’
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