"The Benbrika family is in difficult financial circumstances and are dependent on Mrs Benbrika's social security benefit," an immigration review tribunal report from 1995 found.
The suspect's wife, Rakia Benbrika, asked yesterday if she was still receiving social security payments replied: "Yes I am."
So exactly how much would Mrs Benbrika be receiving?* It's probably none of my business, and I couldn't say exactly, but let's check out what Centrelink has to offer on this.
First of all, we know that the Benbrika's married in 1992, and they have 6 children. This being 2005, the oldest child would be 13 years old. For eas of calculation, let's say all 6 are under 12. I don't know the ages; again, none of my business.
What payments are available?
Let's start with the Parenting Payment: As she is partnered, the maximum she could be receiving is $365.00 per fortnight. This assuming that neither she nor her husband own any assets, and that he does not have an income, either. (I'll address that a bit further down).
Next, we have the Family Tax Benefit - Part A: This is like child endowment used to be (or is that Part B?). Anyway, the minimum rate for each child is $44.10 per fortnight, with a maximum rate being age-based. For children 0-13 years, the maximum rate is $137.06 per fortnight. This is asset and income tested, but for the sake of argument, I'll total both of those up later.
FTB-A is available to all families whether single income or dual income - it is means tested, though, and some people think it's not worth going through all the paperwork for a measly $10.00 a week or so. (I know someone who gets about that much, and reckons it's worth it purely on the principle alone.)
Third cab off the rank is the Family Tax Benefit - Part B: This is for single income families or sole parents/careers. Again, it is income tested. As Mr Benbrika has apparently been receiving benefits for the last 10 years, I think it's safe to say that Mrs Benbrika would be on the maximum rate of $117.60 per fortnight. This is dependent upon the age of the youngest child, and I'm sure that this is not per child. It's only paid the once.
But wait! There's more!
As the proud parents of 6 children, they are eligible for the Large Family Supplement, which with 6 children is an extra $28.56 per fortnight.
How are we going so far?
Okay, let's see what we have.
$365.00 Parenting Payment
$264.60 FTB - A (min $44.10 x 6 children)
$822.36 FTB - A (max $137.06 x 6 children)
$117.60 FTB - B
$ 28.56 Large Family Supplement
So Mrs Benbrika could be receiving anywhere from $775.76 and $1333.52 per fortnight.
No doubt there are a few cries of "Pot! Kettle! Black!" That's cool - I receive benefits, too. I'm a single parent. I have one day a week that I do 'real work' while Magilla is in daycare, and I also do filmwork. That is sporadic, and sometimes paid, sometimes not. In any case, I work around the needs of my child.
I've got no axe to grind with Mrs Benbrika staying home with the kids. If she wants to. I have a sneaking suspicion it's probably because she thinks that it's what a good muslima does. In any case, because she wears a burkha, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to consider her unemployable. Before screaming discrimination, think about how many companies like you to wear photo-id tags? If she's wearing a burkha then that sort of puts paid to the efficacy of that idea, doesn't it?
Other entitlements, in this land of milk and honey, are:
Maternity Payment which currently sits at a $3079.00 one-off payment for each birth, whether live or stillborn. This is colloquially known as the Baby Bonus, and has been around in one form or another for years and years. I received around $800.00 when I had Magilla back in 2002.
There is also the Maternity Immunisation Allowance of a one-off $219.00 payment for each child between the ages of 18 months and 2 years. This is conditional upon the child having completed their immunisation schedule. There are some exemptions, although I personally don't see why anybody should refuse to immunise their child.
Oh, and let's not forget Rental Assistance, and as a Concessoin Card Holder, she may be entitled to concessions on pharmaceuticals, her water bill, the gas and electricity companies have winter concessions, public transport, the cinema, the zoo, and most theatre shows.
But back to Mr Benbrika.
He could be on Disability Allowance, Newstart or other sort of allowance. That would be a fortnightly payment of between $365.00 or $408.20.
I know that we have a great social support network in the world.
I know that there are people who do genuinely need that support - I'm greatly appreciative that I have been able to spend the most important years of my daughter's life with her. As the Jesuits say: Give me the boy and I'll show you the man.
There are also now numerous psychological studies coming out all the time and they all pretty much state the bleeding obvious: The most important factors in a child's first years are continuity and quality of care. If you have to put your child into longday care, that child can thrive providing the quality and continuity are there.
Ideally, I believe that children should stay close to at least one of their parents in the formative early years.
I also worked for years in the corporate world before attempting to make my mark in the filmworld. I paid my way from the age of 17 onwards, so I think I'm entitled to have a bit of a whine about a man who comes to this country, overstays his visa, marries a resident, then proceeds to live off her benefits and then his own.
In a land known for giving everyone a fair go, I think he's had more than his share.
I have yet to read any report of what he has contributed to the economy. Well, apart from insurance fees exploding due to fear of possible terror attacks.
*Please note, I have taken the figures from the Centrelink and FamilyAssist websites - they are part of the public record and freely available to anyone who wants to have a look. These are also just estimates - they do not take into account any income that Mr Benbrika may have actually earned. The protrayal of him as someone unwilling to earn a living may be inaccurate, but it is also widespread in the MSM, and it is this I am basing my assumptions on.
Then again, maybe it's just that he feels entitled to it.