This Sunday is Mother’s Day! It is a day set aside to value and honour mothers, motherhood, and the important role mothers play in our society.
Did you know that the tradition of giving gifts on Mother’s Day began in Sydney in 1923 when an Australian mother, Mrs. Janet Heyden, started a campaign to collect gifts for lonely aged mothers?
Mother’s Day is also a day that we can pause and reflect on the great value God places on the role of mothers.
Mothers serve as the first nurturing place for precious human life as the miracle of creation takes place in her womb. The whole process from conception to birth is nothing short of amazing.
Is there any greater human love than that of a mother for her child?
So here we want to acknowledge God’s great design and intention for mothers and honour mothers, young and not so young, for the way they have been such a huge blessing to our lives.
But we also, sadly, need to alert you to a sudden development that threatens the future of motherhood in Australia.
The Abbott government seems set to abolish Family Tax Benefit Part B, even though many families rely on this to make ends meet. Luke McCormack of the Australian Family Association stated in a media release how this “is a real slap in the face for mothers who are doing most of the childcare work for their own children.”
This is just one of the 86 cost-saving measures proposed by a National Commission of Audit that could be implemented in the new Budget to be released on Monday 13 May in Parliament House, Canberra.
Up until 1980, Australia had a very equitable income tax system. There was an unspoken recognition of a mother’s contribution to our nation’s wealth through the birth and nurture of our greatest natural asset, our children.
But in 1980, all tax deductions for the birth and raising of children were removed and replaced by a cash payment called a ‘Family Allowance’. So, suddenly, everything that the family had previously been entitled to as a tax deduction from their income tax became “welfare”.
It only got worse for families in successive governments with means testing, cuts to the Baby Bonus and a lowered tax-free threshold. There was some relief by the Howard government in 2000 when the Family Allowance was replaced by Family Tax Benefit Part B. This took away some of the welfare stigma put on stay-at-home mums.
Increasingly, these mums are not valued for their unpaid work of raising children. There is a growing perception that they are ‘unproductive’ and even ‘dole-bludgers’ receiving handouts.
According to an articleby Angela Shanahan, a columnist for the Australian, who is a Christian and mother of nine, the agenda of the Coalition is to “force more women into paid employment when their children are young by skewing all family benefits towards women who put their children into institutional childcare.”
But is depriving our children of a mother’s love worth it? Are we happy to let day-care centres raise our children? Mother-love cannot be subcontracted out! Pushing mothers into the workforce so productivity-driven governments can get income tax dollars from working mothers is not the answer.
It is actually very short-sighted because more mothers entering the workforce is known to reduce fertility rates – in 1961 the figure was at a high of 3.5 babies per woman but by 2012 it was 1.93 which is below the replacement level of 2.1.
Angela Shanahan wrote last weekend in her opinion column, “the Abbott government admits the bottom line to all our economic difficulties is the low fertility rate, which has left us with a dearth of younger workers, forcing older people to stay in work longer.”
We need to keep reminding our leaders that the economy should serve the family rather than the family being a servant of an economic system or the state. Our government needs to look at more ways to strengthen the family and not undermine it. The primary producers of our nation’s wealth are mothers, and it makes economic sense to look after them.
The Canberra Declaration highlights the importance of the “natural family resulting from marriage between a man and woman” stating that “no other social institution has done so much good for people and nations, yet marriage is being undermined, to the detriment of children, individuals and society itself. Lifelong marriage between a man and a woman guarantees children their biological birthright to a mother and a father and has a proven track record of providing them with protection, education, welfare, support and nurture.”
The good news is that if government does the right thing by the family then the economy benefits. This was the conclusion of the World Congress of Families in Sydney last May with its theme ‘Happy Families – Healthy Economy’. The Sydney Declaration that resulted affirms that “the productive economy is sustained by strong families.”
Here are four reasons why axing the Family Benefits Part B is bad policy for mothers, families and children.
Many mothers rely on Family Tax Benefit part Bto make ends meet. Family Tax Benefit Part B was introduced to bring some recompense/justice for a one-income family that only enjoys one tax-free threshold. In the vast majority of cases the money is paid to the mother.
Family Tax Benefit part B should be INCREASED, not abolished, because dual income homes have $36,000 tax-free income compared to only $18,000 for a single income home.
The one-third of mothers (32.6%) who have three or more children and do almost two-thirds of the child raising (56%) in Australia will suffer the most with the abolition of Family Tax Benefit B.Many of these had heeded Peter Costello’s call to have an extra child to help Australia’s economy.
The Abbott government is so focussed on productivity and budgetary sustainability that the importance of mothers raising children has been forgotten.
How can you encourage our leaders to value and protect mothers in Australia?
Please send an emailto all the Liberal/National Members of Parliament by clicking this link or following the steps below. Tell them that Family Tax Benefit B should not be abolished as it is helping mothers carry on their priceless and irreplaceable work of raising children in Australia.
You can even ring Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s office direct (02) 6277 7700 and tell him yourself.
Please praythat Family Tax Benefit Part B will be kept and even increased as a special Mother’s Day present for Aussie Mums.
This Mother’s Day let’s celebrate and value and honour our mothers. They are God’s priceless gift to us.
Yours for valuing and protecting the mothers of Australia
David Rowsome and Warwick Marsh
An Easy Way to Email Your Politicians
To find the email address for the federal Liberal and National Party MPs and Senators in your state go to the Australian Family Association‘s excellent tool. First go to AFA’s website by clicking this link:
The Canberra Declaration is the work of many people and organisations.
The administration of the initiative is being supported by the Australian Christian Values Institute and Australian Heart Ministries.
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