Many working families eligible for the Coalition’s “baby bonus” plan would get less than the $500 a year promised as a minimum by John Howard, according to an analysis of the proposal by the ACTU.

While the great majority of working families would get nothing under the plan, even those who are eligible stand to gain significantly less than the promised minimum payment, according to the analysis.

“Mr Howard says a minimum $500 will be paid, but in fact less than $500 will be paid to many eligible women who do some paid work during the five years after the birth of their child,” Ms Burrow said.

“Many working families trying to keep up with the GST and other price rises simply cannot afford to have one partner out of the workforce, so they will get nothing under the scheme.

“Mr Howard’s promised plan is blatantly unfair and offers no income security to working families. It discriminates against low-paid working parents and is no substitute for universal maternity leave rights,” Ms Burrow said.

The analysis showed that 37.4% of all women employees earn less than $400 a week before tax so could, if eligible, qualify for minimum payments of between $9.62 and $10.08 a week. However, many of these women could not afford to stop working, so would get less than the promised minimum.

Only 6% of working women (those earning more than $52,000) would be entitled to the maximum benefit of $2,500 a year under the scheme, which failed to set any income cap to prevent payments to the extremely wealthy.

“Most women know that Mr Howard’s promise offers them nothing. Those who are eligible are quickly discovering that they will not even qualify for the promised minimum payment. Working women will not be fooled by Mr Howard’s trick,” Ms Burrow said.