Mon, Jun 21, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Australian women try to delay births to get cash bonus

AP , CANBERRA

Pregnant women are trying to delay giving birth until July 1 to cash in on the government's new A$3,000 (US$2,045) baby bonus starting in the new fiscal year, a newspaper reported Friday.

Some hospitals are completely booked for planned caesarean sections on the first two days of next month as pregnant women put off elective caesarians until the new payment kicks in, the Daily Telegraph reported in Sydney.

The government announced the baby bonus May 11 as part of a big-spending budget for the next fiscal year, which most commentators agree is designed to win votes at elections due before Christmas.

Mothers who give birth on June 30 or earlier get just A$700.

Prime Minister John Howard was unconvinced his government's policy was affecting the timing of caesarean sections.

"If that were happening, I would be concerned," Howard told reporters on Friday.

"Whether it's happening, it's very hard to tell," he said.

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