Today is a great day for 1.3 million families across Australia, for 14,000 families in the ACT and for the 6,750 families in my electorate of Canberra. Today all these families will receive the schoolkids bonus in their bank accounts. The Gillard Labor government are delivering this vital cash payment to families because we know how tough it can be for parents to pay for all their extra school costs around the start of each term. There are costs for uniforms, shoes, bags, excursions, computers, socks, runners for school sport and the hats that constantly go missing—the list of the costs associated with schooling goes on and on.
From today, all families receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A will receive $409 for each child in primary school and $818 for each child in high school. This is the full amount of the education tax refund for 2011-12. Then, from next year, the new bonus will be paid in two instalments—one prior to the start of term 1 and the other prior to the start of term 3—so that local families will continue to get the support they need when they need it: before the costs start adding up. This payment will be made straight into families' bank accounts as part of the transition from the education tax refund to the new schoolkids bonus.
We are making this transition because we know that many families were not claiming all the money they were entitled to under the education tax refund, and that was a real tragedy. Many families simply could not wait months to get money back at tax time. We decided to make it simpler by paying the schoolkids bonus in full and upfront to all eligible families so that they get every cent they deserve.
It was a real pleasure to be out in my local community this morning in Hughes with the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Families, Community Services, Indigenous Affairs and Disability Reform, speaking to the Ayres family—Elizabeth and Anthony and their two children, Liam, who is in year 4, and Lauren, who is in year 2—about the schoolkids bonus and how much it will help them. This family is unique in many ways because Anthony is Canberra born and bred—we are starting to increase the percentage of the community that has been born and bred in Canberra— and he grew up in Hughes and went to Hughes primary like his children are doing at the moment. So he is pretty much 100 per cent Hughes!
It was a great pleasure to sit with him in Hughes in the local shops in the beautiful patisserie and have a cup of coffee and hear about his experiences of growing up in Canberra and how much they enjoy the Hughes area and Hughes Primary School and how much this schoolkids bonus is going to relieve those extra costs that are associated with putting Liam and Lauren through school. Liam was sharing the fact that the day was a big day for many reasons, not just because a schoolkids bonus was coming in and not just because he had the Deputy Prime Minister and the minister visiting but also because he was very excited about attending a school camp.
After we sat in the cafeteria and talked a bit about the schoolkids kids bonus, we went over to Hughes Primary School for a chat with the Principal Kate Smith who showed us their wonderful new library that was built with BER money. All the students and staff that we spoke to were absolutely delighted with this beautiful new library. It has become a real hub for the school—not just for reading but also for learning and taking a bit of time out—both for teachers and students. The children of the Ayres family also said how much they enjoyed just chilling out in the library.
Last Friday I went to Richardson Primary School and also Bonython Primary School to talk to families about the schoolkids bonus which was very warmly received. I got a great response from talking to Canberra families. They are very grateful for the assistance they are getting. They know that the Gillard government and I are strongly committed to education and to helping them with the cost of putting their children through education. I got a great reception there with Minister Snowdon. The schoolkids bonus has been very much welcomed by the Canberra community.