Australia in the midst of a "baby boom"

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Saturday, June 3, 2006

Australia would appear to be in the middle of a baby boom, with the largest number of births recorded since 1992. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that 261,400 births were registered in 2005, 6,200 more than 2004.

Australian treasurer, Peter Costello believes his speech during the 2004 election may have influenced Australians to have more children. In 2004, Mr Costello said that each family should have three children. After seeing the statistics for 2005, he said "One for mum, one for dad, and one for the country - it was a light-hearted way of making a serious point,"

"I am delighted that at least some families have been taking up the challenge," said Mr Costello.

The Howard government believes that Australia's aging population and low birth rates will threaten the country's economy in the future.

As part of the 2004 budget, the Howard government introduced an AUD $3,000 maternity payment to all mothers who give birth to a child. As of July, the payment will increase to $4,000. As a further incentive to have more children the government increased family tax benefits and from July, will allow families to claim a 30 percent childcare rebate (capped at AUD$3000 per year).

Wayne Swan, the opposition's treasury spokesperson said Mr Costello isn't the reason for the boom. "I am willing to let Peter Costello claim credit for higher interest rates, even higher fuel prices, but I think claiming his charms have lifted the national libido may be a bridge too far" he said.

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