Here's an article from today's Sydney Morning Herald about the child payments the Government made to families.
Kids' shout as parents go to town on bonus
By Adele Horin and Lindsay Murdoch in Darwin
June 24, 2004
It's money for jam - and mobile phones, household appliances, children's clothes and alcohol.
The nation has gone on a spending spree since the Federal Government's $600-a-child payment landed in parents' bank accounts last week, although it appears that not all of it is being spent on children.
People are also using the largesse to splurge on mobile phones or even big-ticket items like television sets. Some are spending up big at pubs or clubs, with reports that the windfall has caused particular chaos in the Northern Territory.
For some businesses, it has been a welcome lift. At the Bomaderry Bowling Club, near Nowra, the assistant manager, Jeff Brown, said it had been "a good weekend, we've been busy ... and the shopping centres have been ballistic".
Mr Brown, a father of two, said he intended to spend some of his $1200 on a 68 centimetre television, and the rest on bills.
By last Friday, about two million families had received the one-off payment, announced in the federal budget.
In some areas, mothers appear to have rushed to the shops, but with the children in mind. When Linda Mondy, UnitingCare Burnside's senior manager for western Sydney, turned up on Friday for the mothers' meeting at Doonside, only two of the 10 regulars were there.
"My staff tell me the women were excited, they'd been planning what to spend the money on - and it was on kid's clothes."
Howard Goldberg, managing director of Best and Less, said sales had surged by 10 per cent.
But a high school principal in one poor regional town said a lot of money had gone down people's throats and into the pokies. "It is one of the most ill- considered and ill-thought policies," he said. "A lot of families here are on very low incomes and when you throw a lump-sum like this at them there's mayhem. One family with eight children suddenly got $4800."
One-third of the children at his school, which he did not want identified, had been absent on Friday. "They went with their parents and shopped till they dropped ..."
In another southern rural town, a hotel employee said the poker machine takings had been the "biggest ever" on Thursday and Friday night. However, a Herald check of several clubs around the state found no pattern of unusually big takings.
In Bourke, Sally Bryant, a council community worker, said she had seen no negative impact on residents. "Most people have been strapped for cash because of the drought and the lack of casual work. They've looked upon this money with gratitude."
The Moree Champion newspaper said children's runners were "walking out the door" of a local shop and sales went "through the roof" at Harvey Norman. The Telstra shop reported sales jumping from two or three a day to 15.
In the Northern Territory, Aboriginal leaders and welfare workers said some parents had spent the money on gambling, alcohol and drugs.
Michael Berto, chairman of the ATSIC council in Katherine, said the payments had triggered increased violence. "This is definitely a result of this payment coming all at once . . . the Government should have handled it better."
And the problems were likely to worsen when the $3000 new baby bonus became available from July 1.
"That's going to increase pregnancy rates ... it's going to create more havoc."
I really hate politics.