Federal Election 2016: Labor backtracks on plans to restore Schoolkids Bonus

The Federal Opposition has confirmed it will not roll back the Coalition's changes to the pension or restore the Schoolkids Bonus if it wins power.

Labor has criticised the Coalition for scrapping the bonus and has railed against the pension changes, which reduce payments to pensioners with substantial assets.

The Opposition voted against both the changes in federal parliament, accusing the Coalition of treating pensioners and parents with contempt.

But Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor would not reinstate the bonus or reverse the pension changes while the budget remained so heavily in deficit.

"We think the Government was ill-conceived in making these changes and we still think they're not the best changes, and that's why when the Greens and the Liberals voted together on pension changes we registered our disagreement," Mr Shorten said.

"But now we've had the most recent fiscal outlook, there is no doubt that this Government has surprised Australians, including us — they've tripled the deficit, they've also put at jeopardy, under Malcolm Turnbull's reign, the AAA credit rating.

"We do not believe, looking at the latest set of books that the Government has just revealed last week, that we're in a position to restore the changes they've made."

Labor will 'review' the pension, won't promise to increase it

The Government scrapped the Schoolkids Bonus after hammering out a deal with the crossbench. The payments are due to expire in July 1 this year.

The payment was introduced by the Gillard government and provides families with $430 for each child in primary school and $856 for each child in secondary school.

The Coalition estimates that restoring it would cost the budget $4.5 billion over four years.

The pension changes will come into force next year and will save the budget $2.4 billion over four years.

Mr Shorten has vowed to "review" the pension, but will not make a concrete promise to increase it.

"What we will do is review our pensions income, because we're not convinced that meddling with part pensioners is the best way to go for Australians," Mr Shorten said.

"This Government has really systematically got things wrong with the nation's finances, so we do not believe in all responsibility that we can simply reverse the changes they're making."

Morrison says Labor engaged in a 'cynical exercise'

Treasurer Scott Morrison has pounced on Labor's announcement, accusing the Opposition of hypocrisy.

"It's all basically unravelling on them … it's not a question of whether there's a black hole when it comes to Labor's unfunded spending, it's just a question of how big it is," Mr Morrison said.

He said Labor had spent years campaigning against the changes to the pension and championing the Schoolkids Bonus.

"Labor can't be trusted on the promises that they've been making. They've been engaged in a very cynical political exercise over the last couple of years, extremely cynical," Mr Morrison said.

The Treasurer also said Labor had quietly taken down a website petition to keep the Schoolkids Bonus.

"Yesterday it was all about the Schoolkids Bonus that they were going to restore. Today it's vanished. It's no longer there," he said.

Source: ABC News

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