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Labor confirms end of schoolkids bonus

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Parents won’t be getting a schoolkids bonus after July, no matter who wins the federal election.

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The government has been paying eligible parents up to $856 a year for each of their school-age children.

The last half-yearly payment will be made in July after parliament backed the government’s plan to phase out the bonus.

Labor, which opposed the measure, now says it won’t restore the payments if it wins the July 2 election.

While shadow treasurer Chris Bowen confirmed the new position on Thursday, leader Bill Shorten skirted around the issue when quizzed on Darwin radio.

“I’m going to give your answer the detail it deserves,” he said, before talking about changes to the age-pension assets test Labor won’t reverse either.

Both measures will save the budget $8 billion over four years.

Treasurer Scott Morrison was dismissive of the announcement, telling reporters in Canberra: “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.”

He accused Labor of a staging a cynical and deceitful campaign against both measures.

“It was designed to drive up their support knowing full well that when they were called to account that they would have to walk away as they appear to have done,” he said.

The Labor website had been running an online petition calling for the schoolkids bonus to be restored.

“Today it’s vanished. It’s no longer there,” Morrison said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull might need to perform some verbal gymnastics of his own when he campaigns alongside his deputy Barnaby Joyce in Rockhampton.

The Nationals leader has been under pressure to explain what he meant when he drew a link between Labor’s suspension of live cattle exports to Indonesia in 2011 and a spike in asylum-seeker boat arrivals.

The comment drew immediate denial from Jakarta with a please-explain retort.

Joyce was in damage control on Thursday, saying the trade ban had made it difficult to negotiate the issue of boat arrivals with Indonesia.

“I’m just stating the bleeding obvious,” he said.

While in Rockhampton Turnbull will pledge $150 million to get the ball rolling on several dam projects in Queensland.

AAP

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