POLL: Stunned at baby bonus cut

 Casual workers and full-time mothers will be hardest hit by a federal government decision to lower the baby bonus from $5000 to $3000 after the first child.

Hunter organisations and parents reacted yesterday to the surprise government move to reduce the bonus as part of its plan to keep the federal government in the black.

Samaritans chief executive Cec Shevels said it was typically casual workers and full-time mothers who opted to receive the $5000 baby bonus as they did not qualify for paid parental leave, which was worth about $10,000.

Parents can only receive one of the benefits and only those who earn less than $75,000 qualify for the bonus.

‘‘It’s just a bit of extra pressure on families that they do not need at this time,’’ Mr Shevels said.

‘‘If they are on two or three children they may not need extra baby equipment but they do have extra costs.’’

Brendan Stothard and partner Neesha Krestensen welcomed their first child, daughter Isabel, into the world only 10 days ago.

While the changes will not affect them in the immediate future Mr Stothard said any cut was ‘‘ridiculous’’ and could eventually impact on the young family.

‘‘That extra $2000 is a lot of money especially if you’re on a fine wage,’’ he said.

Beau McCabe, of Metford, looks after his 18-month-old daughter Ella-Mae and was not impressed with the news.

‘‘I don’t think they should cut it any more, it’s just too expensive as it is,’’ he said.

‘‘Especially as they’re taxing all those miners now so it’s not as if they don’t have the money. Every little bit helps.’’

Catholic Care acting director Jennifer Smith said changes to the bonus should not affect people’s decision to have children but would make life more difficult.

‘‘Our view is having children is a serious family consideration and not something that should not be related to financial gain,’’ she said.

‘‘Whether people are getting $3000 or $5000 it should have no effect on their eventual decision to have children.

‘‘People who are totally family-minded, with stable, balanced lives do not make the decision to have babies based on the baby bonus.’’

The bonus also raised questions about the financial management skills of some families, she said.

However any drop in financial support for families was disappointing.

‘‘Children cost much more than the baby bonus,’’ she said.

Hunter Business Women’s Network said the change would also hurt small business owners who often opted for the baby bonus.

Committee member Jaimie Abbott, who is also Newcastle Liberal candidate, said it was a blow for women trying to get pregnant.

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