When the Federal Government announced the mining tax, the mining industry employed an armada of lobbyists, produced reams of reports and flooded TV stations with advertising to get their point of view across.

Why tax Big Mining when you can hit people like this?

The resulting debate dominated headlines and won the miners major concessions.

Single parents and their children can’t afford well-paid lobbyists or advertising campaigns. In the main they’re too busy with work and family responsibilities to organise themselves.

That’s why you may not have heard about legislation that passed through Parliament last week which will reduce payments for about 100,000 single parents – many of whom are working casual and low-paid jobs.

This measure has been introduced as part of the Government’s bid to balance the budget this year, and has the support of Tony Abbott and the Coalition.

I’m going to refer to sole parents as “her” in this column. That’s not to overlook the many sole fathers who face the same struggle to balance work and family, but to recognise that 90 per cent of sole parents are women.

The legislation forces single parents off the Parenting Payment onto the Newstart Allowance (the dole) as soon as their youngest child turns eight. Sole parents will effectively get the same payment as the unemployed – a drop from around $320 per week to a maximum of $246.

Although the Government has dressed up this budget saving as a way of encouraging sole parents to work, the reality is that it will take money from the pockets of thousands of people already in work.

Contrary to stereotypes, the majority of sole parents – around 60 per cent – are in paid work, and the rate increases the older their children get.

Most sole parents want to work so they can provide for their children, and ensure that they can lift themselves out of poverty and have a career when their children leave home.

This week is Anti-Poverty week, and research by the Australian Council of Social Services has found that 600,000 children are living below the poverty line (of 50 per cent of the median income), and half of these are in single parent families.

Many single parents work and still claim a portion of the Parenting Payment, and this change will leave them worse off.

If a single parent is getting the Parenting Payment, she can earn an extra $87 per week before the payment is reduced but on Newstart her payment is reduced after earning just $31.

The reduction is also sharper on Newstart and means that a single parent in part-time, low-paid work might be over $100 a week worse off from the shift.

She will then either have to find $100 worth of savings from her already tight budget, meaning either she or the kids will go without, or try and squeeze in extra work to make up the shortfall.

This is where the difficulties sole parents face when trying to find work kick in. Single parents need to balance their children’s needs with the demands of their job.

What happens to the woman who doesn’t get paid because she can’t turn up for a shift because she has to take a child to the emergency department? Or the one who has to turn down a job because it involves night or week-end shifts and there’s no child care available? How does she handle school holidays?

These pressures means that single parents are more likely to end up in casual, contract or other forms of insecure work, which means their hours and income are often irregular. This cycle is difficult to get out of, because they always need to put their children ahead of their boss.

Taking money out of the pockets of single parents only exacerbates this stress, it does not make it any easier for single parents to find decent work or increase their skills.

Keeping payments to single parents higher than the Newstart allowance would recognise two things.

First the contribution sole parents are making to society by raising children and the difficulties this involves. These difficulties certainly don’t stop when a child turns eight.

Second the fact that while being on the dole can often, though not always, be temporary, being a sole parent is likely to last for many years, reducing any savings that a person has built up.

The Newstart payment itself has been falling in comparison to both average and minimum wages for the last 15 years. While we need to keep Newstart at a level that gives people an incentive to move into work, we also need to recognise that for many people it is their sole source of income.

You don’t help people into a job by forcing them into poverty. This exacerbates any underlying problems people have, such as mental or physical illness, which may be making it hard for them to find work. It makes it harder for them to access training and makes them more socially isolated.

Even the Business Council of Australia agrees that Newstart is too low, saying that the current level is “likely to erode the capacity of individuals to present themselves well or maintain their readiness for work”.

I think it is good for children to grow up in households where people work. However these changes will not do that, instead more children will be at risk of becoming homeless, or missing out at school because their mother can’t afford to pay for books or excursions.

I would support any policy that makes it easier for single parents to get training or find work, but this change is simply about saving money. It has been done with no consultation with those affected. The Government has not even waited for a Senate inquiry into the issue to report.

Compare this to the reaction to the ACTU’s plan for a broader “super profits” tax, to more fairly balance the tax load paid by businesses, another issue in the news last week.

Under the ACTU’s model, super-profitable companies would pay tax of 40 to 50 per cent, but many businesses would pay less tax because they could claim a deduction for “normal” returns to equity investors.

Big companies that enjoy established market position might pay more, while smaller and newer businesses might pay less, giving more incentives to innovative new companies.

This proposal is not being treated seriously by governments or business, regardless of its merits, because it would upset too many powerful interests.

If only single parents had the same level of influence, and the same chance to fight for decent treatment.

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEST

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102 comments

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    • Gratuitous Adviser says:

      06:05am | 15/10/12

      I realise there are exceptions but why should the community fund the result of a stray immature sex romp, when parental guidance, education and culture should have prevented the occurrence.

      I realise there are exceptions but why should the community fund the result of a stray immature sex romp, when responsibilities of the father and his family should have been enforced.

      I realise there are exceptions but why should the community fund the result of a stray immature sex romp, when drug use was the catalyst for the event in the first place.

      I realise there are exceptions but why should the community fund the result of a sex romp that had the intention of getting more benefits from Centrelink.

      A bit unfeeling you say?  I only know two girls that this happened to, and one or more of the above was relevant each time.  Get more social workers.  That will fix it.

    • KH says:

      07:20am | 15/10/12

      Wow - a sample of two!  Sure, that would accurately represent the whole population of single parents.  You should get this research published…..............

    • James1 says:

      11:04am | 15/10/12

      Penguin, when you define poverty in relative terms, then statistically you will always have a certain number of poor people, and no increases in income will do away with this.  It is a statistical fraud.

    • Nat-nat says:

      11:25am | 15/10/12

      Wow…i hope this is a troll comment!

      Otherwise in your eyes, as someone raised by a sole parent after my father left his wife and two year old daughter to run off with another women, I am the product of a “stray immature sex romp”...thats good to know

    • Gratuitous Adviser says:

      12:10pm | 15/10/12

      Natty,
      “I realise there are exceptions but why should the community fund the result of a stray immature sex romp, when responsibilities of the father and his family should have been enforced”. 

      Please note “responsibilities of the father” and why should the greater community pay this ever increasing social and culturally defective bill?

    • Mahhrat says:

      06:11am | 15/10/12

      I am wavering on this issue.  I want to help kids, but I also want adults to be aware of the real costs of having children. 

      We generally want to have kids.  Legacy and biology and all that.  Similarly, I occasionally want to go slay a tiger in a fit of manliness, but then I realise that it’s 2012 and I need to temper my primal urges.

      I’m wondering whether we need more and better education - particularly for young people - around the true costs of having children, the nature of 20 years of commitment, and that sort of thing.

    • Joel M-J says:

      09:26am | 15/10/12

      Mahhrat, you’ve got it right I think.

      I am certainly pulled by both sides of the argument on this as well.

      And as much as I LOVE Tiger fighting (who doesn’t?) we really do need to take more responsibility as potential/existing parents. I believe someone previously mentioned more social work in the area or something like that. His overall comment seemed a little bit uncitizenly (please excuse my made up word), and I struggle to agree with him entirely, but perhaps there is some truth in his statement.

    • Carz says:

      06:20am | 15/10/12

      You’re right, it sucks. But guess what? This change only affects those single parents whose parenting payment was grandfathered under the Howard government. For everyone else they already either get kicked over to Newstart when their youngest child turns eight or, due to Centrelink screw-ups, weren’t put on Parenting Payment in the first place, or didn’t end up as single parents until after their youngest child had already turned eight. How is it fair that these people already receive a less rate of payment? How is it fair that the children of these people have had to go without while other single parents get given more by the government? I am a single parent on Newstart. I am looking for work and yes, its bloody hard on the money I get. but it can be done. I have also finished my degree on the basic money of Austudy and Newstart. If the outcry was on behalf of all single parents receiving Newstart instead of the higher rate given on Parenting Payment maybe more of us would have spoken out. But the situation is so inequitable as to be laughable. All I can say, with a tone of mild bitterness, is welcome to my world.

    • Terry2 says:

      11:07am | 15/10/12

      That’s correct, many single parents automatically go over to Newstart already but it is worth noting that in Newstart there is a work-ready program of TAFE courses & other training courses to help the individual get back into the workforce. I know a Mum who went through this Newstart system which not only resulted in her getting a job but also lifted her self esteem.
      It’s not all bad.

    • NESLIHAN KUROSAWA says:

      06:23am | 15/10/12

      Hi Ged,

      I truly appreciate the thought and the idea behind this article!  So are we all saying that it is high time to address the actual needs of the less fortunate and the disadvantaged women in our society.  I must say that miracles do happen!  It has been a non stop bombardment of heavy words in our Parliament House without any substantial actions about potential voter’s heart felt worries or concerns so far. 

      May be just like Mitt Romney admitted in the USA already, our Federal Government also thinks that 47% of Australians live off the Government and their votes don’t count anyway.  Which I must admit to be very ignorant and is that so in our country as well?  A Prime Minister chosen by Australian voters should be able to represent everyone in our community across the board, whether they actually happen to vote for them or not, in the first place.

      A day in the life of a politician and a leader should be so much more than their self image and self importance!  It should be all about real issues and concerns felt by most voters men and women alike!  However while we are at the issue of defending women’s rights in general, my question to you “do the lives of our female leaders and politicians have actually anything in common with all those disadvantaged single mothers at all?  If the answer is NO, then surely there is room for improvement!  Kind regards.

    • bananabender56 says:

      06:26am | 15/10/12

      Single parent families take a few forms - people who have children outside of any relationship, people who were married and are now divorced and those whose partners have died. For the first group, we provide as a society free contraception - it is your choice to use it or not.
      For those who are divorced I would think the family court would award child support, and therefore as a society we must ensure the child support is collected before we start increasing taxes. I don’t know if it’s the same in Australia, but in some states of the USA, wages are garnished at source to pay the child support. If Australia doesn’t do it then it should. For those whose partners have died then we should support them in the form of a pension - which I thought we did.
      While the current Government spends my taxes on things like Indonesian schools ($500M?), untied budget aid to PNG ($125M?) etc etc I wouldn’t support any tax increase to pay more to single parents. Charity begins at home.

    • Liliana says:

      07:48am | 15/10/12

      Bananabender56, these days If someone has young children and their spouse passes away they are put on to Parenting Payment (sole parent payment) until their youngest child is 8 years of age, after which they will receive Newstart Allowance (the dole) and be required to look for work.  The Australian Government has not paid a Widows Pension or Deserted Wives pension for many years.

    • Stormy Weather says:

      08:57am | 15/10/12

      And what about those who leave their partners due to domestic violence or those deserted by partners who don’t want to take responsibility for their children. Most single mothers I know receive less than $1 a day in child support, not to mention the millions of dollars in unpaid child support the government is disinterested in collecting for children.

      To suggest that there are “worthy” and “unworthy” welfare recipients is stupid when talking about the marginalised and further perpetuates discourse amongst the poor which is nice when you’re sitting in your comfy armchair and a great incentive for governments to ignore poverty in their backyard.

      “Charity begins at home”?
      What about human rights, where do they begin in your logic?
      Being a single mum is not Black and White.

    • Tim says:

      09:43am | 15/10/12

      Stotmy weather,
      They can do what most other adults have to do, take responsibility for their own choices and get a job.

    • bananabender56 says:

      11:06am | 15/10/12

      @stormy weather - you ignored the bit about taking child support directly from the parents wage. If all of the people who were supposed to pay child support did, then the size of the problem would diminish.
      Not sure about the rant on human rights. My comment was aimed at ensuring we spend our tax dollars looking after the disadvantaged in Australia before we piss it away overseas.

    • nihonin says:

      06:29am | 15/10/12

      ‘That’s why you may not have heard about legislation that passed through Parliament last week which will reduce payments for about 100,000 single parents – many of whom are working casual and low-paid jobs.’

      Lots of people did hear about it Ged, but Tuesday was all about trying to deflect from it and other tasteful legislation up for passage as well.  Why don’t you give more than just a limp wristed slap and come out and say the government (oh my its Labor I forgot) just don’t care about who they have to screw in order so Wayne Swan can gloat “see we did produce a surplus”.

    • acotrel says:

      07:24am | 15/10/12

      Three states with the Liberal Party in power and ideological belt-tightening, are doing much more to make life miserable for more people, than Wayne Swan could ever achieve with his ‘surplus’.

    • nihonin says:

      07:45am | 15/10/12

      lol Don’t stop believing that, acotrel.  wink

    • acotrel says:

      08:31am | 15/10/12

      nihonin, I take it that you’ve still got a job and a full belly.

    • acotrel says:

      08:37am | 15/10/12

      @nihonin
      The proven technique for dealing with major recessions is to spend money on public infrastructure to provide jobs, and when there is nothing left to spend it on - have a war !  What has changed ? The great big new religion of globalism and the free market has failed again , just as it did immediately prior to WW1, and WW2. You guys are the ones with the ideology and economics - what would be your new answer ?

    • nihonin says:

      10:45am | 15/10/12

      ‘You guys are the ones with the ideology and economics - what would be your new answer ?’

      Labor in government, why aren’t they stepping up and answering your question.  When the Libs are in government, I’ll expect them to answer your question as well.

    • GigaStar says:

      11:16am | 15/10/12

      acotrel says:08:37am | 15/10/12 “@nihonin The proven technique for dealing with major recessions is to spend money on public infrastructure to provide jobs, and when there is nothing left to spend it on - have a war !  What has changed ? The great big new religion of globalism and the free market has failed again , just as it did immediately prior to WW1, and WW2. You guys are the ones with the ideology and economics - what would be your new answer ?”

      acotrel - never let facts get in the way do you. Spending money on infrastructure to provide jobs is not proven. The Australian’s Premiers’ Plan (belt tighening) outstripped the US New Deal (spending) in recovering after the 1930s Depression.

      The free markets didn’t fail - they were interfered with by the US government when they kept interest rates artificially low to facilitate NINJA loans to people with no income and no assets instead of letting the market make corrections. The GFC was a due to regulatory failure - not market failure.

    • GROBP says:

      06:35am | 15/10/12

      More people equals less money per person. Look at the world .

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      06:51am | 15/10/12

      @GROBP

      “More people equals less money per person. Look at the world .”

      That’s not how wealth works.

      Wealth isn’t a static pool from which everyone takes a dip, thereby reducing the overall supply.

      Instead, wealth is the result of useful economic activity, where useful is defined as a transaction that gives value to two or more parties.

      The more people you get together, trading with each, spreading ideas and expertise, adding value to each other’s lives, the wealthier that society gets.  And it gets wealthier not just on pure economic terms, but also in terms of quality of living, lifespan, mortality rates, etc.

      That of course, is not an argument for reckless, taxpayer funded breeding.  We’re talking about ::useful:: economic activity; one that generates a surplus of good to people, not a deficit.

    • GROBP says:

      07:27am | 15/10/12

      @lower_case_andrew

      I agree with most of what you’re saying, however, we don’t do much of that in Australia.

      ............“reckless, taxpayer funded breeding.  We’re talking about ::useful:: economic activity; one that generates a surplus of good to people, not a deficit. “...........

      You nailed it there.

      Waste, spending, over government, too many on welfare, not enough production, too much reliance on a dying mining industry, too much foreign investment, too much red tape, too many other obstacles to business, too much interference by government, too much manipulation of markets. ALL with VESTED interests the prime goal.

      Australia cannot afford more people. Our lives are less rich in all things as a result of over population.

      It doesn’t matter how we look at this, what our opinions are, there will be diminishing returns of a growing population. In my opinion we surpassed that long ago.

    • Tony of Poorakistan says:

      06:39am | 15/10/12

      Doesn’t worry me if they tax the bejsus out of Westpac, NAB, ANZ, CBA inter alia. The CEOs are determined to protect the *growth* in profit, not just the profit, by gouging heir customers.

    • Dave says:

      07:04am | 15/10/12

      Assume for a moment that your crack about “gouging” is correct. Do you think that customers will pay more, or less, if confiscatory tax rates are applied to banks?

    • Joel M-J says:

      09:43am | 15/10/12

      Dave’s right. Tax the banks? Please don’t. I’m pretty certain the Australian people want to keep their homes and (relatively) affordable rent.

      “Tax the banks”... Maybe Economics and Business should be mandatory subjects in high school.

    • ramases says:

      07:18am | 15/10/12

      In essence what you are saying is that the tax payer should continue to support single parents well after they are able to return to full time work. Why. Families with two parents have to work to pay their bills so why shouldn’t single parents be obliged to do the same.
        Are they that privileged that they deserve special treatment or do you seriously suggest that we also pay one parent of a two parent family to stay at home to loom after the kids on the tax payer also.
        If you bring a child into the world you and not the tax payer are obligated to provide for that child as your duty but what you are saying is that even though you bought this child into the world the rest of the world has to support it. Crap.
        This along with maternity leave, the baby bonus is just the nanny state taking away the obligations of the parent to look after their own child and should be cut. Its usually a conscious decision by a person to have a baby and it should therefore be that persons responsibility to look after and provide for that baby not expect the long suffering tax payer to once a again subsidise your actions and decisions.
        By your lop sided way of thinking anybody who makes a decision that could effect their lives should be supported by the tax payer for that decision and in that case I want a new car but cant afford it so where is my tax payer funded car.

    • Stormy weather says:

      09:22am | 15/10/12

      Families with two parents can “share” the load in raising children, have more disposable income and can take turns in picking up children from childcare or caring for kids when you or they are sick.

      Most single mothers on welfare are amongst the most unsupported and under resourced parents in society, they are doing the work of both mum and dad. Many have disabilities or health issues, lower education, come from dysfunctional upbringings, are isolated from their communities, have no car, are carers and may have children with special needs.

      More than half are in paid employment but children can’t parent themselves. At 8yrs old, a child can’t look after them-self and it’s illegal to leave young children unattended. Paid employment is not the only contribution to society and it shows how under valued being a mother actually is.

      If you are going to get all hoighty-toighty because a minuscule amount of your taxes helps the poor in society then why don’t you move to Monaco where they don’t pay taxes.
      Your taxes pay for our politicians, they pay for public servants, roads, hospitals, schools, teachers etc.
      If you had some type of a moral compass you would be outraged that there are people in society doing it tough, rather than having a go at knocking them down just to feel superior.

      Think what you will of single mothers, hold all the bigotry and vitriol towards us if that is your choice and helps you sleep at night,
      but I ask, have you actually once thought about the needs of these children?

      And to mention “privileged” in the same context of people living in poverty shows only your ignorance.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      09:51am | 15/10/12

      @Stormy weather - the best thing to do if these single mothers cannot provide adequate care to their children is to give the children to someone that can and will.

    • ramases says:

      09:52am | 15/10/12

      “Most single mothers on welfare are amongst the most unsupported and under resourced parents in society,”  and most single mothers have either made the conscious decision to have a child as well or have been dumped by the father of the child. There are those who for some reason or another have had single parenthood thrust upon them through no fault of their own, ie death of a partner or divorce but that still doesn’t excuse people from their responsibilities.
        As you bought up special needs children I have to confess that in this day and age when medical science can determine if an unborn child has a disability then why do the parents decide to have that child and then expect the Tax Payer once again to foot the bill.
        The excuses you use such as the socio economic disadvantages of some and the under educated position of others means nothing as there is no reason that these people should be allowed to live off the Tax Payer and in all probability breed another person who will carry on the tax payer funded lifestyle.
        Actually I do think of the needs of these children and my main concern is the fact that the parent knowingly bought this child into the world and then expected the Government to pay for their decision, that is what I call child abuse. If you make the decision to have the child then you are morally obligated to provide for that child not expect others to do it for you.

    • single mum and proud says:

      10:09am | 15/10/12

      I left an abusive relationship as did my friend. We can’t count how many times we have been thankful for centrelink for helping us through rough patches as we both work almost full time (35 hours per week) and are both employed on a casual basis. This means, child sick = no pay, xmas time = no pay, death of a relative = no pay. We were both working before we took our children out of an abusive home and stopped the cycle. The parenting payment is based of our income and if all goes well in the fortnight (ie - 70 hours worked) we only receive approx $50 anyway. It’s the health care card and the back up income that helps us single mums. And no, we have not continued to have children. I have one daughter, my friend has 2 daughters with no intention of bringing any more kids into our lives to support.

    • Stormy Weather says:

      10:12am | 15/10/12

      ramases, dude, I can feel your hate seething through the monitor screen.

      Wondering if your opinion is actually a legitimate one or you just like to win arguments?
      Nothing like a bit of Darwinism to get the day rolling.

    • Stormy weather says:

      10:29am | 15/10/12

      jade (the other one)

      Are you one of those “child stealers”?
      Didn’t the Government recently apologise for stealing children away from their single mothers?
      Didn’t Kevin Rudd already have to make an apology for the stolen generation.

      And will you be the one to tell a 6 yr old his mother can’t afford him anymore so “here’s your new mummy”?

      Parenting payment was actually a cost effective way to support sole parents to raise their own children which is a win/win for the kids and their mothers.
      It put less of a burden on charities and government services like orphanages and all that horrible archaic stuff.
      There are plenty of unwanted children who need homes.

      Children from sole parents are NOT unwanted and NOT unloved.

    • ramases says:

      11:08am | 15/10/12

      What hate, its just cold hard logic and fact. I don’t hate anyone, why should I and to imply that I do is ridiculous.
        I was stating my views and that of a lot of people who for reasons known only to themselves keep quiet. I tend not to as I see things mainly in black and white with very few shades of grey. If that offends some people then so be it but I am entitled to my opinion and will take whatever comes my way on the chin but will be there at the end.
        As for losing an argument, whatever, it happens but I take umbrage at the stupid and self serving types of answers that one sees to prove a point.
      My point is that why should the Australian Tax payer pay for someone’s personal decision to have a child. Why should the Australian Tax Payer pay for someone to have 12 months maternity leave for a personal decision, why should the Tax payer pay a baby bonus for someone who makes a personal decision to have a child. Pretty straight forward question but so far no definite answers but a lot of self serving rhetoric.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      11:45am | 15/10/12

      Whether they are wanted or not is not the issue, Stormy weather. The issue lies with the suitability of the parent to actually parent the child. The taxpayer should not be footing the bill for women who elect to have children when their circumstances are not conducive to it. I fail to see an issue with expecting single parents to educate themselves and upskill themselves in a period of 8 years.

      If the issue is child care - teaching degrees are available and heavily subsidised by the government, particularly in Early Childhood Education with the new pre-prep curriculum and attendant requirements. In 8 years they should be well able to complete one of these degrees, and attain a suitable, fairly well-paying job which provides them with the ability to work the hours that their children are going to school.

      If women (and men) are choosing not to take advantage of 8 years on the taxpayer dime, then they are clearly not committed to the best interests of their children, wanted and loved or not.

      @single mum and proud - why would you have children with an abusive partner in the first place? Why bring innocent lives into that sort of situation?

    • Cate of Brisbane says:

      03:40pm | 15/10/12

      My step-daughter is autistic and has an intellectual disability. There is no pre-natal screening for hers nor thousands of other disabilities Ramases. Just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean they can’t make a valuable contribution to our society. Statistics show the vast majority of single parents were in fact, partnered when their child was conceived and born. The myth of the legions of single mothers out there deliberately breeding to incur the great riches that come with the parenting payment is just that - a myth. And the reason the Australian taxpayer should subisidise someone else’s decision to have a child is so that we have a future generation of taxpayers you numpty.

    • single mum and proud says:

      03:51pm | 15/10/12

      @ jade. I was young when I married and I was in love with my now ex husband. You tend to have children after you get married and when you are in love and starting your life together. He wasn’t abusive when we married (however now I look back the signs were there, too young to know what they were) The abuse got worse as time went on esp after she was born however I only had one child.  I have not gotten into a new relationship preferring to give my all to my daughter.

    • GROBP says:

      08:02am | 15/10/12

      50% of a lot of money is living in poverty?

      How can poverty be measured as a percentage of what the rich earn? How ridiculous. This sounds more like a percentage they think they’re “entitled to”.

    • GROBP says:

      08:08am | 15/10/12

      ” This proposal is not being treated seriously by governments or business, regardless of its merits, because it would upset too many powerful interests.”

      There’s the problem. Get rid of these two parties.

      They care not one bit about you, me or Australia.

      Why do we continue to vote for them?

      Populating Australia will continue to erode the lives of us already here, there’s nothing in it for us. 80% of us don’t want it but yet it continues.

    • ChrisW says:

      08:24am | 15/10/12

      A woman who has lost her husband through accident or illness should be able to get assistance without question. If she can find work that fits in with her parental responsibilities then she should be given assistance to take it - and that may mean flexible arrangements in the case of things like a child’s illness (and the reverse should apply if a man is left alone).
      A woman who is divorced should first rely on support from her former partner - if necessary the government needs to step in and ensure the money is taken from pay packets and assets (and the reverse should apply if the man has custody).
      Women who have children outside a marital relationship should not be given unlimited support, indeed they should be given very little support.  The parents however must be made aware of the consequences of actions. If they cannot clothe and feed their children then the state must step in and take charge of their finances and require the parent to work - or face losing their children. There are jobs which could be provided by the state - not pleasant jobs perhaps but things that need to be done.
      It sounds tough but the children need to come first.

    • Stormy weather says:

      09:37am | 15/10/12

      Why are some women more deserving, less impure that they deserve more of your compassion?
      It seems you have a great bias against unwed mothers which ultimately impacts on our children who have an equal right to be part of society.

      “The parents however must be made aware of the consequences of actions”...

      Could you be more condescending?
      I’m quite sure single mothers are very aware of our “consequences” after caring for our children on our own in such hardship, and doing a brilliant job despite the poverty and discrimination.

    • James1 says:

      11:22am | 15/10/12

      I disagree.  The obligation of the state to support unproductive citizens should be the same across the board, regardless of how a person came into their circumstances.  When a child turns 8, it is possible to work regardless of whether one’s partner died, ran out, or was kicked out.

    • Helen Chadwick says:

      08:46am | 15/10/12

      Contrary to popular belief ( like “the dole bludger fallacy)  MOST sole parents are WOMEN who were in relationships that failed. A very small percentage were NOT in a relationship. We know that between a third to a half of all marriages fail, so why do people think that there is a huge number ‘ripping’ off the system”. It just ain’t so.  Carz is correct , this move is only bringing ALL sole parents under the same rules. But the difference is that sole parent 90% of whom are women should be paid MORE then parented parents. WHY you ask…Well as the name suggests they are sole, the only parent. Many do NOT have help form the children’s father, or much family support. Yet they are bring up children aline. And once their youngest is 6 we expect them to work for 15 hours a week, look for part time work, or study full time. Child care is available 12 hours per day Monday to Friday, many types of work that employ a high percentage of woman is NOT 9-5, nursing, hospitality. And when there is the issue of children that are sick…where does this fit in. Bring back a higher rate of payments for ALL sole parents, restore what Howard demolished in 1996. NOT to do so is a slap in the face to ALL women.

    • Tim says:

      09:48am | 15/10/12

      How about you take responsibility for your own choices instead? Why should the taxpayer be funding your mistakes?

    • Stormy Weather says:

      10:03am | 15/10/12

      Absolutely agree.

      Interesting that single mothers were “grandfathered” which meant they were suppose to be protected from any legislation amendments.
      The Government was very clever/manipulative to dump a portion of sole parents on Newstart while seemingly “protecting” the other portion of sole parents who were grandfathered.
      One can only assume that again discourse amongst welfare recipients was the aim. It kept the focus of what the Government was doing at the time.
      It’s appalling that while it was Howard’s government that began the process it is Gillard’s government which has taken it on board.

    • expat says:

      02:27pm | 15/10/12

      The taxpayer is not responsible for your social and family life. If you cannot maintain a relationship that is not our problem, so why should everyone else carry the cost?

      You also cannot tell me that the majority of single parents do not receive the legally enforceable financial assistance from the partner.

      What I see is lots of young, single women going out and getting pregnant as a source of secure income. The benefits on offer equate to more than what the same single women is likely to get working an basic job.

    • Cate of Brisbane says:

      04:36pm | 15/10/12

      Dear expat, read it and weep. Child support arrears state by state, total arrears and number of non custodial parents who haven’t paid.

      WHAT THEY OWE
      Debt Total paying parents
      QLD $239.21m 151,275
      ACT $9.23m 8571
      NSW $250.28m 201,239
      NT $13.51m 8063
      SA $44.17m 51,511
      TAS $14.80m 19,774
      VIC $171.76m 143,125
      WA $109.80m 67,122

      Oh and the kicker, one in three non custodial parents is paying $7 a week, according to data collected by the Department of Human Services.

    • Ian1 says:

      08:54am | 15/10/12

      Ms Gillard must have known that by moving single mothers on parenting payment welfare to the newstart allowance, her “popularity” with the female vote was going to take a hit.  Considering her vote with men is worse than Tony Abbott’s vote with women is, I reckon the woman-hater rant she levelled at him was delivered to instigate an era of misandry.  Was it designed to distract the media from the 100,000 or so women crying poor as a direct result of Julia’s handiwork?  They will all be worse off under this Prime Minister’s despotic reign.

    • Loxy says:

      04:38pm | 15/10/12

      Gross generalisation there Ian1 - I’m a women and I support Gillard’s decision on welfare to single parents, in fact I wish she has gone much further. Most mothers I know who are part of a couple go back to at least part-time work when their child is around one years old - why shouldn’t single parents be forced to do the same? Why allow any parent, single or part of a couple to stay at home for 8 years living off taxpayer funds?

    • emily says:

      08:55am | 15/10/12

      I have been a single parent and I understand that it is hard, but the key thing is that it is not meant to be forever. And really,they will still receive family tax benefit, it’s only the ‘pension’ amount that is reduced.

      Look around the world, other countries are busy cutting their welfare bill, here we have vested interests calling for welfare to be raised. We will not be able to afford this in the future.

      People on welfare are not meant to have the same living standard as those who work!

      Case in point- I know a lady with 2 kids who managed to get a disability pension for her ‘anxiety’.Including her family allowance, she receives $35,000 tax free per year. Plus another $7,000 child support from the dad of one of the children. So that’s $42,000 TAX FREE per year, plus rent assistance, discounted utilities and rego, health care card, medications for $5.80 etc.
      If you ask me , that’s a pretty good wicket for someone who does not work at all.

    • bella starkey says:

      09:32am | 15/10/12

      Centrelink payments are not tax free.

    • Sam says:

      08:59am | 15/10/12

      Its funny how someone who is classed as ‘single’ is always cast as someone who has it easy and has heaps of money and finds their way effortlessly through life.  However, when ‘single’ becomes ‘single parent’  it seems that the complete opposite is true.

    • Paul says:

      09:08am | 15/10/12

      Don’t know how people can survive under new start now, let alone with a child in tow and all the associated costs and issues.  I was listening to parliament (yes warped I know) and was horrified to hear the changes.  I work bloody hard and its not easy to put food on the table, and I’m way above what you could ever get though new start .  Its amazing how much of Hobart is available for lease at the moment. This government has killed every sector its legislated in. Tassie is in a depression as a result, and its a wonder that overall the rest of the country is economically growing.  Cut the waste and red tape, actually legislate for en outcome that business can handle rather than some sound byte. Micro businesses are the canaries of the economy.  Here they’re just about all dead, and now the local chains are starting to die.  Those on handouts cannot pass their costs on. I don’t know how they can afford the increases in rent and power.  Now is not the time to cut back on those who can least afford it. All it will do is allow her highness to make another stupid announcement with the all important Billion dollars, in it.

    • modern primitive says:

      09:48am | 15/10/12

      This will sound sexist, but it needs to be said.

      Perhaps single parents should put a little more thought into partner selection and the decision to have children and the consequences thereof, as its obvious that they end up having to rely on government largesse when their life choices go to shit.

      In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m against the increase. Why should I subsidies someone else’s life choices?

    • fml says:

      11:09am | 15/10/12

      Why should I have to subsidise hospitals or roads in other states?

      My taxes should only go towards what I use damnit!

      I am guessing you would have not ever used any loop holes to pay less tax, made use of any benefits, returned the $900 rudd gave you and did not ever make use of the baby bonus, first home buyers grant or anything of the sort?

    • Tim says:

      11:36am | 15/10/12

      Fml,
      Perhaps you can see the difference between essential services like roads and giving people money to support their lifestyle choices?

    • fml says:

      11:56am | 15/10/12

      Tim,

      Perhaps you would like to see that buying food is essential for survival. I would like to know how you think feeding your children is a lifestyle choice?

      Maybe you would like to understand it is possible that these women were married, and that it is entirely reasonable for these women to be finding life tough after the divorce, so when the decision was made it was infact a good one. Maybe you can see that your assumption that all these women had babies out of wedlock is unreasonable.

      So, what do you suggest to the single mother who had a child when married, is now divorced and now supporting the child? Are you just going to berate them for their life style choices, and not blame the father that left?

    • Tim says:

      12:10pm | 15/10/12

      Fml,
      Nice load of assumptions there with some emotive language thrown in for good measure.

      You do realise this policy isn’t going to cut them off the public teat entirely so the stuff about feeding their kids is complete bunkum?

    • James1 says:

      12:10pm | 15/10/12

      fml, what you write notwithstanding, I think it entirely reasonable that the state put some limits on its obligation to pick up the slack for absentee parents.  Evidently, you think that the youngest child turning 8 is an unreasonable limit. 

      As such, at what age should single parents be forced into looking for full time work?

    • fml says:

      12:36pm | 15/10/12

      Tim,

      You haven’t told me why feeding your child isn’t considered essential?

    • fml says:

      12:46pm | 15/10/12

      Tim,

      You haven’t told me why feeding your child isn’t considered essential?

      You do realise I was commenting on modern primitive posts about him not wanting to subsidize other peoples choices? And bringing up the reasons why we as tax paying citizens have to on occasion pay for services we do not use? Or are you going to tell me what I am supposed to be arguing?

      James1,

      “I think it entirely reasonable that the state put some limits on its obligation to pick up the slack for absentee parents” As do I, it should be minimal amounts to help people get through rough periods, I just find it absurd when people say they shouldn’t have to subsidize government programs by paying taxes. I also think there should be some form of safeguard, for example if the absentee parent has a tax file number, to put the exact amount owed onto the absentee parent and take away from future tax returns, if the parent hasn’t paid monies for a number of years, there should be court proceedings for missing out on payments.

      “As such, at what age should single parents be forced into looking for full time work?”
      That is an interesting question, if you are able to support yourself then there shouldn’t be a concern, obviously we are talking about people who are on government benefits. If their employers are giving them paid maternity leave, so be it. If not, I would be happy with the government reducing the amount of money being handed out by transferring to a subsidy for child care. That way the mother can go out and find work and we help prop up an industry. At what age? I don’t know what age can children go into child care? We have to note what percentage of mothers are actually getting to this stage? are we all arguing about a small minority? or a massive issue?

    • jade (the other one) says:

      01:05pm | 15/10/12

      @fml - children can actually attend full time childcare from 6 weeks of age. Whether that is in the best interest of the child is certainly debatable, but the option is there. Single parents on the pension can and often do access subsidised child care at approximately $3 a day.

      As far as I am concerned, provision of full-time 12 hour a day subsidised childcare for single mothers rather defeats the purpose of the pension. I was under the impression it was intended to give single mothers the option that women in two parent households supposedly have of being a stay-at-home parent. If they are putting their children into child care, what is the point? They could obviously be working during the time their child is in care.

    • James1 says:

      01:17pm | 15/10/12

      fml, while kids can enter daycare almost immediately upon birth, places for new born care are very limited to the extent that you have to book in before they are conceived in some areas, so I don’t think that offers a useful guide.

      In regard to the numbers, apparently this reform will affect 100 000 single parent families, so it is a reasonably large issue.  Although I am not sure how to quantify this as a percentage, my guess is that it would be less than 40% of single parent households.

      To my mind, it would be better to force single parents onto Newstart when their kids enter kindy (or prep in QLD), which is the start of their formal, 6 hour a day 5 days a week schooling.  At that stage, every parent has at least 6 hours a day of spare time on their hands (my own wife went insane with boredom after about a month and chose to start working again).  If we factor in the fact that after and before school care are far cheaper than actual daycare, and that they are already subsidised at the same rate and in the same income brackets as day care, my opinion is that the entry into full time schooling of the youngest child is an eminently reasonable time to force single parents off the pension and onto a payment requiring mutual obligations.

    • James1 says:

      01:21pm | 15/10/12

      I would totally agree with the jade.  There is no reason why a person on a pension for looking after a small child needs their day care subsidised, as they are already essentially being paid by the state to provide full time care for said child. 

      If they are to be forced onto Newstart or Austudy, I think the subsidisation of out of school hours childcare is reasonable though, so that the parent has full access to the normal working day.

    • fml says:

      01:31pm | 15/10/12

      Jade,

      Well that is the question, when should mothers be forced to put their children into child care, or should the parents have the choice to stay at home. Obviously people are upset at their contribution to the tax system. If that is the case so be it. But then they cannot argue that the the parents are not fully providing the expected level of parental guidance.

      My issue is with people such as Modern Primitive, who complain about others on benefits and have used government subsidies themselves. That is why I have asked the question as to whether he has used any.

    • Tim says:

      01:32pm | 15/10/12

      Fml,
      You brought up essential services like roads as if they were comparable to giving taxpayer money to parents for a lifestyle choice. They are clearly not.
      The states responsibilty is to the child, not the parent.

      As I said, these parents are still able to feed their children through the payments they receive. If they are unable to do that then the children should be removed from their care because they are unfit parents.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      01:52pm | 15/10/12

      @fml - the new laws reduce benefits only after the children have been in compulsory schooling for 3 years. I am perplexed as to why these women feel that they should continue to be paid for doing nothing while their children are now at school? And why these women feel that their single status should give them additional options from the government that many two parent families do not have?

    • fml says:

      02:03pm | 15/10/12

      Tim,

      You are missing the point, you are talking about a life style choice. MP is assuming that people are having children when they are unable to afford it, he doesn’t take into account that people’s situations change.

      He clearly doesn’t want to pay for services others use. He says uses the term “government largesse” I guess he would need to confirm if he meant new start in that statement, if so, then yes it is an issue about feeding the children.

      James1,

      At full time kindy is reasonable, how would you comment to people who say they do not want to give any help to these people because it is their life choice?

    • James1 says:

      03:07pm | 15/10/12

      fml, my comment to that would be such arguments are an oversimplification and are of little benefit to detailed discussion of these issues.  Living in a society means that such a path is not possible, and thus we must work with what we have, however imperfect.  Lindblom’s “muddling through”, rather than root and branch reform is what is required.

    • Modern Primitive says:

      06:02pm | 15/10/12

      fml, you are so far to the left you have lost sight of the center.

    • Modern Primitive says:

      06:05pm | 15/10/12

      By the way fml, talk about making a straw man a minute. You were on fire today.

    • Balanced says:

      09:54am | 15/10/12

      A huge proportion, and growing,  of the federal budget now goes on welfare this has to stop. I would have started with the rorting of the disability pension but single parent families have to be targeted as well. This sense of entitlement that the author espouses is neither sustainable or wise.

    • Richard says:

      09:55am | 15/10/12

      By all means reduce the Single parent payment along with getting rid of The Baby Bonus , Family Tax benefit Part A & B.  The vast majority of this nation receives some sort of Govt assistance so all you high and mighty people who are lucky enough to have paid employment get off this bandwagon. After all it may be you in this situation in the future. You wouldn’t want to be called a parasite, would you. Along with keeping these payments Defence Pensions should be indexed in line with the Age Pension.

    • Ally says:

      09:58am | 15/10/12

      I’m really conflicted about this issue. On one hand, I really feel bad for those single parents that are trying to make ends meet and are doing everything they can for their kids.

      On the other hand, I think about the peopleI know (and am related to) that have had kids to try and fix crap relationships, or to guarantee a source of income from either their ex partner or from the government. I think about the people in the housing commission suburb where I grew up that only saw how much extra money they were going to get for an extra kid and not the extra expense. I realise that these people are probably in the minority as a whole, but I have more experience with this type of single parent and they taint my view.

      I think we should be doing more to educate the people in this latter group that children are expensive. Some people seem to have absolutely no concept as to what having a kid will mean.

    • James1 says:

      09:59am | 15/10/12

      “This week is Anti-Poverty week, and research by the Australian Council of Social Services has found that 600,000 children are living below the poverty line (of 50 per cent of the median income), and half of these are in single parent families.”

      This is a function of the way we measure poverty, and does not give an accurate account of the level of poverty (or its impacts) in Australian society.  When you measure poverty relative to the median income, a large portion of society will be poor, and giving them more money will not change this, as the median will simply increase and almost exactly the same number of people will be poor.

      As such, that statistic is a very poor base on which to build an argument.

      Otherwise, I see no reason why people with kids in school should be allowed to avoid seeking out full time work, and no one anywhere has presented an argument that in convincing.  Most of the arguments I have seen are that this move will put more pressure on single parents to work, and that this will make them busier and more stressed.  Welcome to life without the hand of the state sheltering you from its realities, people.  It is busy, complicated, and sometimes stressful.  Deal with it.

    • AdamC says:

      10:22am | 15/10/12

      James1, I think it is probably fair to say that balancing full-time work and parenting is easier within a couple, where there can be a division of labour between primary care-giving and bread-winning. (I made this point in a response to the Jessica Irvine article today.) But what can anyone do where that is simply not possible, given there is only one adult in the family?

      You are right that poverty is a sort of statistical fraud in Australia, in many respects. You are also right that, when it comes to school age children, it is not unreasonable for single parents to take primary responsibility for the financial support of their children. This is especially so given that the children can already benefit from state-provided education and healthcare.

      I must say I have found many of the testimonials from the supposedly sympathetic single mums surprisingly underwhelming. They are hardly alone in lamenting that working takes them away from hearth, home and the company of their families. It is called making a living!

    • James1 says:

      11:01am | 15/10/12

      Indeed, Adam.  I have no problem with the single parent pension up to a point, and I think that the new legislation gets it right in making that age 8.  From memory, single parents could collect the pension until their youngest was 16 (someone please correct me if I am wrong), and that situation was ridiculous and untenable.

      Regarding your first paragraph, you are absolutely correct.  I tend to make these arguments on what is possible based on my own experiences.  My wife stayed at home until our first child was in school, and is currently out of the workforce again having recently birthed our second (hence my absence of late), so to my mind, the single parent pension is a reasonable thing for single parents with kids not in school, as I can’t imagine how a person could manage full time work as well as the demands of a small child without using long day care, which in turn (especially for those in low paid industries, as many single parents are) places huge financial demands on a person. Thus, an expectation of minimal state support during the first 8 years is reasonable, but to expect that level of support to continue beyond this is unreasonable, and ultimately places an unsustainable burden on taxpayers and governments.

      On your last paragraph, I find those testimonials quite staggering, and to me it speaks volumes about the entitlement mentality of some people.  To think that the state owes you a life free of difficulty and stress is very strange, and it is sad that our society has come to this.

    • Markus says:

      01:17pm | 15/10/12

      @James1, while by no means easy street, a single parent on the parenting payment with a child not yet in school would be eligible for the maximum possible childcare subsidy.
      Add in the additional childcare allowance they could qualify for if they are engaging in study qualifications for more than 15hrs/week, and they could be paying as little as 5 cents an hour for childcare.

    • George says:

      11:10am | 15/10/12

      I’m not with the left on this. These changes sound harsh but I agree with a most of what’s been said. Every sperm is not sacred. The left fails when it supports this ideal yet is constantly wanting better life conditions.

      Those people on the recent four corners program, the people living in Claymore in the welfare suburb, all had about 3 kids each!

    • HappyG says:

      12:06pm | 15/10/12

      Hi Ged. Question without notice.
      In the current ACTU downsizing and outsourcing of jobs how many single parents will be out of work? Ah the unions, hypocrisy in action.

    • Stormy weather says:

      12:18pm | 15/10/12

      The thing that is rarely mentioned is “what it’s like to be a sole parent” and it’s often easy to judge someone without walking in their shoes.
      A working sole parent (and over 50% are in the paid workforce) not only works but has overwhelming responsibilities others wouldn’t dream of. People could maybe consider these things before attacking them and consider the complexities and barriers to gaining full time, even part-time employment.

      Who looks after your kids when they are sick?
      Who looks after your kids when YOU are sick?
      Who drop-off your kids to “before hrs” school care?
      Who picks up your kids from After school care? (before 6pm or they charge $10 for every minute you are late)
      Who takes your sick child to the Dr’s or to the hospital in emergencies?
      Who looks after your kids during school holidays (2 weeks X 4)
      Who looks after your kids during Christmas holidays (including end of December/all of January)
      Who attends parent/teacher meetings?
      Who takes children to extra curricular activities?
      Who takes children to birthday parties?
      Who reads books to their children every night?
      Who helps children with their homework every night?
      Who makes all the breakfast/lunch and dinners?
      Who does all the housework (Clothes washing, ironing, dishes, vacuuming, dusting, cleans the toilet/bath/shower, tidying, sweeping etc)
      Who takes the garbage out?
      Who mows the lawn?
      Who makes all the small household repairs?
      Who budgets and pays all the household bills?
      Who does the grocery shopping?

      It’s a big task, one I doubt many of the critics could handle.
      Sole parents need a pat on the back not a kick up the backside.

    • James1 says:

      12:50pm | 15/10/12

      It is difficult, we all know this.  However, that does not mean you should be free to not look for work indefinitely.  Governments cannot make decisions based on how easy it makes your life.  There has to be a limit.

      I assume you don’t think that 8 is a reasonable limit.  In that case, what should the limit be, and what is your rationale for positing that limit?

    • josh says:

      01:51pm | 15/10/12

      As a former sole parent I thought I’d answer your questions:

      A) I looked after my kids when I was sick - difficult but hardly impossible
      B) I looked after my kids when they are sick i.e. carers leave
      C) I dropped my kids off before school/daycare and got to work on time - not that hard to get a 9-5 job and select a school and residence within a reasonable distance from one another
      D) I picked my kids up from after school care/daycare, after work - that’s what it’s for
      E) um, I took ,my sick children to the doctor and on occasion the children’s hospital in the middle of the night, why is this difficult again?
      F) my kids went to their mother’s or on occasion to one of the various school holiday programs that are run
      G) see above plus that’s what annual leave is for
      H) I attended parent/teacher meetings, you generally get to choose a time slot that is manageable and after hours, also not sure why this is difficult
      I) well I managed to take my kids to swimming lessons, dancing lessons (weekends), music lessons (week nights) and sports when they were older - why are these things difficult to achieve?
      J) I did, get a full time 9 to 5 job and you’ll find it does not clash with many kids parties.
      K) I read to my kids after their baths and right before I tucked them in each night, wow does this take extra assistance to achieve?
      L) I would mark my kids homework after i put my kids to sleep each night and then discuss any answers they had gotten wrong and assist them the next evening whilst cooking dinner.
      M) I did after I put my kids to sleep and at about the same time I would make my own lunch, do the dishes, tidy up the house and get their clothes ready for the next day - takes me all of 45 minutes to do.
      N) see above plus weekends when I had a spare moment.
      O) seriously why would this be difficult?
      P) lived in a unit - wasn’t necessary
      Q) um I guess I did that the same as I did prior to having kids - not rocket science
      R) I did, I’d sit my eldest daughter in the trolley and the youngest in the toddler seat, they loved it! 

      Wasn’t easy (no one ever said it would be) but I’m not sure I ever felt special for doing what I signed on to do when having kids.

      Rather than come up with excuses why don’t you just take care of business instead of waiting for others to do it for you.

      P.S. these answers are fair dinkum, yet again guess which sex I am.

    • Sue says:

      03:06pm | 15/10/12

      You sound like you wish you had had an abortion.
      You’re a mother- get over it! And stop inflicting a guilt trip on your child. With the level of resent you have communicated- he/she probably would not have chosen you to be their parent anyway.

    • stormy weather says:

      03:12pm | 15/10/12

      Hi James1, this is my opinion but it’s really hard because every one’s situation is unique.
      I think a cut off limit of at least 15yrs is reasonable . That’s when a child is old enough/mature enough to be left home alone unsupervised so the sole parent can really focus on securing full time employment.
      Children still rely heavily on their parents in Primary school and need them during High School adjustment and puberty years.
      It doesn’t mean the sole parent hasn’t been required to work/study before then, but it means they are entitled to that parenting payment rate.

      If some sole parents can manage full time good for them. Most sole parents want to work, they don’t want to be exploited though and they don’t want to burn out. There are more barriers for them to secure work then there are for those without children obviously.

      Sole parents are already required to look for work or study through “participation requirements” which begins at 6yrs I believe.
      The Sole parenting payment enables these sole parents a higher rate of payment, utility concessions, education supplements and the ability to keep more of their pay (from paid employment) before their welfare is reduced.

    • Stormy weather says:

      03:32pm | 15/10/12

      Josh, on TV today there was a story about a “Super” mum.
      She was raising, I think three kids while working two jobs ( as a vice School Principal or something and as a fitness instructor) all the while being a natural body building champion.

      The show was no way suggesting that just because she can do it, suddenly EVERY mother should be able to do it?

      Josh, just because you can be “Super” sole parent, doesn’t mean every one can. Just because I, and other sole parents are scrutinising the current legislation doesn’t mean we aren’t doing what I’ve stated sole parents do.

      Good on you for persevering but to use your circumstance as a benchmark is a bit of a tall order. I’m not sure I like the concept of children institutionalised 9-5 for their entire childhood.
      It also sounds like you have a car, also a reasonable relationship with the kids mother, the option (and finance) to choose how close to your kids school you lived. To say taking a child to the hospital at midnight isn’t difficult? Maybe you don’t have one of those children that vomit all over the taxi seats, who knows?
      What kind of work did you do. How long were you a sole parent?
      So many variables.

      I do think what you’ve done is special because Josh, so many couldn’t do it.

    • Stormy weather says:

      04:00pm | 15/10/12

      Sue, what a cruel thing to say to a mother.
      I would never ever utter such rubbish, you never know if a woman has had a miscarriage, an abortion or is suffering Post Natal Depression. You sound like a nasty bully and very insensitive.
      Maybe in your oppressive World mothers aren’t allowed to voice their challenges of motherhood. I guess in your World they are seen not heard!

    • James1 says:

      04:40pm | 15/10/12

      Thanks Stormy Weather.  I disagree, for reasons on which I will elaborate.

      Your post presents a rationale based on your own circumstances and preferences.  I am not saying I disagree with this, however.  I disagree that this sort of argument can form the basis for government policy.  We must balance your perspective, and the perspectives of those in similar situations, with the perspectives and requirements of other parts of society as well.

      As I say above, it is always necessary to place clear limits on the responsiblility of the state to support citizens who are not productive (in the narrow economic sense of the word), as this responsibility necessarily falls on the productive citizens.  This way, a working life in encouraged and indolence is discouraged.  I am not saying that you personally are indolent, but I am saying that any system which allows a person to access a pension for 15 years simply for having a child does encourage indolence in some.

      Unfortunately, it is this lowest common denominator (the indolent) on which governments must base their policy. This requires an approach that provides a basic level of necessary support but also makes it clear that this support is not indefinite or assumed, and that there are mutual obligations at play.

      In summary, it is a balancing act.  A system which allows single parents to be pensioners and to largely escape mutual obligation until their children are 15 is going too far in the generous direction, and will encourage indolence and cause anger and discontent for those doing the supporting (ie taxpayers). One where people are forced to fend for themselves after having children regardless of circumstances will cause unnecessary suffering for children, and likely result in social order issues such as increased crime.

      Thus, we end up with a situation where the balance sits somewhere between cutting off support at 15 and not providing support at all.  The Government and Opposition currently think that this is the age of 8, which to my mind is reasonable given the level of subsidisation for after school care and support for people attempting to reenter the workforce.

    • stormy weather says:

      06:42pm | 15/10/12

      A big concern is the institutionalisation of children. You’re looking at, for example, a 9am-5pm day for mum or dad but it becomes an 8am-6pm day for many kids who are in before/after school care. Very little time to actually spend with my child yet with overwhelming responsibility and no-one to share the load.  This affects both sole parents and couples but probably worst for the child with the sole parent.

      Ultimately I think the focus needs to be shifted into how do we create more jobs that are flexible for sole parents. Maybe 3-4 day work weeks so at least the sole parents have time to adequately parent their kids, “contribute” back into society and get some socialisation of their own.
      More flexible options of 10am - 2pm (school hours) workdays, thrown in with some government assistance to be sure these families are above minimum wage. Rather than pay for childcare subsidies, because the sole parents have already done their work for the day and now can do their parenting.

      Then I have my perspective that why is our society only concerned about contribution via taxes and no other means? Ultimately this doesn’t have an impact on tax payers, they should be more concerned with middle-class welfare, money being wasted on those that really do not need it.
      It’s the sole parents, mostly women who will end up with either limited superannuation, no retirement funds. Sole mothers will probably be the worst off because they will be old aged and in poverty, no home ownership, no savings.

      15 years accessing a pension to raise children while incorporating part-time work, volunteer work or study, I don’t think that’s too bad considering there will be those on disability, carer pensions, aged care pensions who are indeed indolent and will be for life, most through no fault of their own, some are dubious.
      It costs $269 a day to keep a prisoner in jail. Surely investing in sole parents and our kids is not a burden?

      If tax payers get angry because of where their taxes are going and because they see it unfair that they have to contribute while others don’t, that has more to do with our lack of moral compass and public perception towards welfare in general. 
      Someone created the term dole bludger and there the discourse was born.


      .

    • andrew says:

      01:09pm | 15/10/12

      maybe we can introduce a scheme where two single mothers and their respective children can be forced to live together as a family. Now as there are two parents again, one can look after the kids while the other works.

    • St. Michael says:

      02:25pm | 15/10/12

      Let’s leave aside Ged stamping her Leftie feet over a Labor government doing something she and the unions do not agree with.  This is the most stupid and most concerning part of the article:

      “Under the ACTU’s model, super-profitable companies would pay tax of 40 to 50 per cent, but many businesses would pay less tax because they could claim a deduction for “normal” returns to equity investors.”

      Two issues here:

      (1) What you tax, you discourage.  What you tax excessively, you drive underground or outside the law.  For this reason, excise on cigarettes does not amount to 90% of a cigarette packet’s costs, mainly because the ATO knows full well if it was that high it would either force too many people to quit or would send them to the black market.  Rather, it amounts (combining excise with GST) to about 75% or so.  And smoking is heavily on the decline.

      Somehow, Ged seems to think that heavily taxing the most profitable companies in Australia, i.e. the ones that actually make the most money, employ the most union members, and return the most currency to our economy, is going to reverse Hauser’s Law.  Excises on cigarettes at least are understandable: part of their purpose is to discourage smokers due to the high cost that results to them.  A broad based super profits tax would not be.  It would amount to punishment for obtaining wealth, something that is not and never has been a criminal or moral offence in any country—absent a communist regime.

      (2) Ged doesn’t understand the meaning of “If”.  As in, “if you earn super profits, you will pay heavy taxes on them”.  Companies earning that level of money have an easy reply: “Then I won’t earn super profits.  I will create legal structures to defeat those taxes, shut down operations enough to come below the threshold for super profits, or simply offshore enough of my operations to likewise not come under the ATO’s jurisdiction.”

      Wouldn’t her “constituency”—the combined mass of union workers who would endure the sackings that resulted from such a move—be happy to know that?

    • Sue says:

      02:35pm | 15/10/12

      With the availability of contraception and sex education (yes, we know how they get there), isn’t it time that anyone (male and female) who brings a child into poverty is considered an abusive parent… a certainly one not worth funding?
      What we have at the moment is a system that has ensured that the only way that some people can increase their income without working is to have more children.

      What has developed is the notion that a 15 year old is “entitled” to keep her child- similar to a pound puppy!!!!

      Before the critics set in- I was a single mother at 18 and went to work 3 weeks after the birth.

    • P. Walker says:

      03:25pm | 15/10/12

      Hmmm, and as always with these not fully developed individuals, its always “the condom broke” laughable!  When they “grow up” they’ll understand they can take all you give them. They just don’t want to admit they were having irresponsible sex.  Nearly every pregnancy is a result of that?

    • LM says:

      03:00pm | 15/10/12

      How the parents became sole parents is not the issue, contrary to some of the commentary. Whether sole parents can work when children are 8 years old, and therefore relatively independent, is the issue.

      The answer to that is yes, given that there are no special circumstances (disability, illness, regional isolation, etc).  Subsidised child care exists for sole parents, and, if you’re raising children on your own hopefully you also have a support network of friends & family around you to assist with care. If you don’t, many parents get involved in community groups, or church groups, or their children’s schools, to make some mutually supportive contacts.

      There’s no such thing as a free lunch, I think the saying goes. This sense of entitlement is ridiculous. We need to realise that what we do receive is just a helping hand to get started. Just as the First Home Owner’s Grant helps people into home ownership, the sole parent pension should be the stop gap between becoming a sole parent, and commencing full time work. It’s not there to support your desire to be a stay-at-home parent until your child has left school (even if that’s what you were doing before you found yourself doing this on your own).

      I think I’m semi-qualified to make comment on this, because I was a single parent (my son was 2 when the relationship ended) earning $40k a year, paying off a mortgage, working full time, studying part time externally, and have not received child support since my son was 3.

      Big deal.

      With subsidised child care, I could work full time. Yes, you sacrifice a bit on the way, and wonder if you’re doing the right thing; but it is in the hope of providing a better future, so you do it anyway. Like millions of partnered parents.

      For those sole parents who are living in areas where getting a job is not difficult, I see no reason why they should not work. Don’t get upset if your kids have to go to after school care, or day care. That’s the reality of millions of modern families, partnered or single.

      Don’t get upset if your ex-partner is absent or not paying child support. That is unfortunate, but it’s not going to change the fact you need to earn more money to make ends meet for your child/ren and household.

      Nobody else made me choose the path I took; why should anyone else foot the bill for my choices?

      Parents can work when the youngest child is 8 years old - no doubt about it. Whether they want to or not is another issue altogether.

    • P. Walker says:

      03:19pm | 15/10/12

      It still amazes me that these living in “poverty” still use the tax paid welfare to get themselves inked, pierced and pissed.  Its all about choices, so they need not moan when funds for these non essential items are taken away.
      Perhaps this is what politicians see as well?

    • RonaldR says:

      03:31pm | 15/10/12

      Why wouldn’t Tony Abbott and his cronies not support it - he won,t have to do it now -trouble is voting for Labor or liberal you get the same depending how far the leader is will to go for their Globalist masters

    • Esteban says:

      03:41pm | 15/10/12

      “This proposal is not being treated seriously by governments or business, regardless of its merits, because it would upset too many powerful interests”

      Sorry ged the proposal is not being taken seriously because it is crap. Mind you I bet you would get a hearing from Wayne Swann.

      Stop dreaming up policies that incentivise mediocrity and disincentivise success. Go to Europe on a union funded study trip if you want to learn how those policies play out.

      Ged, you supported the spending so you are duty bound to support the budget cuts to pay back Mr swann’s debt.

      Only union organisers get their lunch for free for the rest of us it is payback time.

      What is that Dire Straits song Crag Thompson is humming? Money for nothing, chicks for free.

    • KFR says:

      04:57pm | 15/10/12

      Just how does this item on jacking up company tax by a huge margin link up with reduced single parent social security payments? Bloody odd but that’s the actu for, sacking people and outsourcing. By the way ged, as wayne swan did this is he a sexist and misogynist as he clearly hates single mothers, using jooles own standards?????

    • brian says:

      06:46pm | 15/10/12

      Its an easy solution and a just one too. increase newstart to the same level as the aged pension. we are a country that can afford it.

 

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