Abbott to scrap Schoolkids Bonus if Coalition wins election
A COALITION government will scrap Labor's Schoolkids Bonus if it wins the federal election on September 14 because it is "a cash splash with borrowed money".
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told the National Press Club on Thursday he planned to axe the bonus in a bid to fund tax cuts.
More than 1.2 million families have received $588 million this month in Schoolkids Bonus payments.
Under the scheme eligible families receive up to $410 for each child in primary school and up to $820 a year for each high school student. In Queensland alone more than 256,000 families received $125 million.
The Schoolkids Bonus announcement almost did not make it into Mr Abbott's speech.
A media report earlier into he day revealed Mr Abbott had been urged by media adviser Andrew Hirst to avoid announcing a major budget cut.
During the question and answer session of his press club appearance Mr Abbott confirmed Mr Hirst had been referring to the Schoolkids Bonus.
"We did have a discussion via email about a matter whether it should be in or out, it was the Schoolkids bonus and as you know it's in the speech," Mr Abbott said.
"It's not going to happen under a Coalition government because it's a cash splash with borrowed money that has nothing to do with education.
"Now we are very confident that families will be better off under the Coalition." Not so, according to Families Minister Jenny Macklin.
She wasted no time in issuing a statement claiming a "typical family with two kids" would be $15,000 worse off over the course of their children's schooling if the scheme was scrapped.
"Mr Abbott will rip this support away, and has no plans to reinstate the Education Tax Refund," Ms Macklin said.
Mr Abbott said during his speech he had showed his hand in the interest of "being up front with people".
The speech, like Prime Minister Julia Gillard's address to the press club 24 hours earlier, was light on policy detail.
But Mr Abbott was unapologetic.
"The government thinks that by announcing September 14 as polling day, it can force the Coalition to announce all our policy detail now," he said.
"The Coalition will release our costings after the government releases theirs - after the Budget and before polling day."
Mr Abbott conceded he would need to find significant savings to fund the policies he had already unveiled over the past year.
He repeated his often-stated line that the election would be a "referendum on the carbon tax" and again committed to repealing it if elected.
There were also promises to scrap the mining tax, slash red tape by $1 billion a year, duplicate the Pacific Hwy "well within this decade" and implement a more generous paid parental leave scheme.
The Opposition Leader also offered a stinging critique of the Labor government's record.
Included in a long list of areas he said the government had failed was border protection, the elevation of Peter Slipper to the speakership, the failure of the mining tax to raise any revenue and the shutting down of the live cattle export industry.