Premier’s kids’ kitty open to children born interstate
Luke Costin and Farid Farid |
Thousands of NSW children born in interstate hospitals will be eligible for the Liberal Party’s signature future fund, after Premier Dominic Perrottet’s office clarified his earlier comments kids must be born in the state qualify.
The Kids Future Fund, a centrepiece election policy, would set up an account for every child 10 years and under to receive $400 a year from the government until they are 18.
The funds are to be used for housing or education.
Asked on Tuesday if a child must be born in NSW to be eligible, Mr Perrottet said “yes”.
That differed from Nationals MP Nichole Overall’s response to a voter in her electorate of Monaro, which borders the ACT, who questioned if his children born in Canberra would miss out.
“As long as you reside in NSW, you are eligible for the Kids Future Fund,” Ms Overall said on Monday.
National data shows 2781 NSW residents gave birth in the ACT, Victoria or Queensland hospitals in 2021, potentially leaving tens of thousands of children ineligible.
The coalition is trying to retain its thin grip on the border electorates of Monaro and Tweed and maintain Albury as a safe seat.
The premier’s office later said those communities would have the support of the Liberals and Nationals.
“We would not seek to disadvantage a baby where parents live in a border town and maternity services are provided over the border or where an emergency birth takes them over the border,” a spokesman said.
“These types of scenarios would be covered through program guidelines with proof of principal place of residence in NSW for the parents.”
Costing $850 million over the next four years – and $525 million a year at its peak – the policy has been criticised for favouring wealthy families, who will be able to contribute up to $1000 a year to maximise the nest egg.
Economist Peter Tulip said overall housing affordability would not improve because the fund did not address housing supply.
“It just means that children with wealthy parents will be able to further outbid other home buyers,” the former Reserve Bank researcher said.
“Home ownership is already becoming hereditary. This policy makes that worse.”
However, the universal seeding of accounts with $400 and $200 annual contributions for low-income families, could potentially counteract that and bring down inequality, economic adviser David Sligar said.
The premier said all parents wanted the best for their children and the fund was all about providing opportunity to every child.
“We back our parents, we back our kids, we want to set them up to have the best educational opportunities possible,” he said on Tuesday.
A Catholic high school in Liberal-held East Hills was the backdrop to announce a financial literacy program, endorsed by the peak national body for chartered accountants.
The program would enable children from kindergarten to year 10 to manage their own budgets.
Labor Leader Chris Minns was 5km up the road, seeking to win over voters in East Hills, which is held on a wafer-thin 0.1 per cent margin.
Mr Minns pledged $22 million to upskill early childhood educators.
Labor promised $9m would deliver 500 tertiary scholarships in three years and flagged paid professional development leave and a research study.
Meanwhile, frontline service providers in NSW’s mental health system said it was in crisis and struggling to operate with less funding per capita than Queensland and Victoria.
“I hesitate to call it a system because that would assume some level of coherence,” Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists NSW chair Angelo Virgona said.
Both parties agreed to listen to the providers’ concerns but rejected suggestions they weren’t focused on improving the system.AAP