News

Swan denies Labor's in election mode

IT'S GOING to be a long year for Queenslanders who do not care for politics, or politicians for that matter.

The sunshine state, along with News South Wales, is home to the highest number of marginal seats with 17.

For the past 12 months Queensland has had more than its fair share of visits from high profile MPs from both sides of the divide.

With an election due later this year, the state can expect an even greater influx.

It began today in the marginal seat of Brisbane, which Liberal Party MP Teresa Gambaro holds by just 1.13%, with Treasurer Wayne Swan and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott holding press conference within an hour of one another.

Mr Swan, who will have a battle of his own just to hold his Queensland seat of Lilley (3.18%), was joined by Families Minister Jenny Macklin to remind voters about the SchoolKids Bonus.

Given the bonus - worth $410 for each child in primary school and $820 a year for each high school student - was a key feature of last year's Federal Budget, the pair had nothing new to reveal.

But they were eager to point out cash from the scheme began hitting bank accounts this month, with $588 million already being dished out to 1.2 million families across Australia in the past fortnight.

In Queensland alone, 256,139 families will share in $125 million.

The Sunshine Coast, Ipswich and Toowoomba are also among the top 10 local government areas in the state for SchoolKids Bonus payments, each raking in $9.6 million, $6.8 million and $4.9 million respectively from the scheme.

Mr Swan denied the party was already in election mode.

"No, what I'm absolutely out here doing is talking to the Australian people about our positive plans for the future.

And what I've done today is to contrast them with the wreck-and-burn approach of Mr Abbott and, of course, the State LNP," Mr Swan said.

Not surprisingly, the SchoolKids Bonus failed to rate a mention during Mr Abbott's media conference in Brisbane, but children were a key issue of his the did speak about childcare.

He repeated his call for a Productivity Commission inquiry into Australia's childcare system, saying it would be "one of the first acts of an incoming Coalition government".

Mr Abbott also stood by his controversial paid parental leave scheme, which he admitted had critics on both sides of politics.

"I'm very proud of our positions on these very important issues," Mr Abbott said.

"This is a critical year. At some point in this year, there'll be an election and the election will determine whether we really do move towards a better childcare system and a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme."

Topics:  federal election 2013 tony abbott wayne swan



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