Prime Minister Tony Abbott has assembled a White Paper that reportedly will include options allowing low-to-middle income working households to retain some of their benefits (such as Family Tax Benefit A or the Child Care Benefit).

PM Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey have been at their wits end trying to kick-start the Australian economy. Mr Abbott’s latest attempts at economic resuscitation will be driven by increased work participation.

But this increased labour force will only yield greater productivity if it is either cheap or skilled (able to produce more value than it requires). Hence the government’s idea to ‘subsidise’ employers by allowing working Mum’s to retain some of their family benefits (and thereby be paid less).

Other reforms include job sharing and increased opportunities for women to work from home.

“As you earn more,” said Mr Hockey to The Daily Telegraph, “you not only stand to lose benefits, but you may also jump into higher tax brackets and then pay more tax on extra dollars you earn.

“We have an ageing population. We need (women) to be more productive. We need you for your experience, we need you for the contribution you all make for the jobs that your children will get in the future.”

Offering cash incentives for work participation may sound good, but the current unemployment rate is the highest it has been in a decade. Business investment and borrowings are at their lowest ebb since the recession of the 1980s. And the transition of the economy from resources to retail has been anything but smooth.

Giving incentives to one section of the job-seeking community does not address any of these issues.

The White Paper is due to be released prior to the next election.

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