FROM January 1, the federal government moved single parents from Parenting Payment to Newstart when their youngest child turns eight. How could anyone live on $265 per week supporting children, when rents start at $300 pw?
Single parents can’t afford child care. If parents are at work or training, the government is effectively saying to them “your eight-year-old can walk home alone after school”, exposing kids to traffic and stranger dangers.
Will the change be an incentive to work? A Centrelink guide from July 2012 shows that Parenting Payment beneficiaries working part-time may earn up to $177 per fortnight before a 40per cent reduction in benefit rate cuts in on further income. Under Newstart, this becomes a 50per cent “tax” rate starting above $62 per fortnight, increasing to 60per cent above $250.
If you get part-time work earning $400 per week, you lose an extra $85 per week, plus you’ve lost $59 per week on the lower Newstart allowance. How is this an incentive to work? Who else pays 60per cent tax? Not even a federal cabinet minister on $6321 per week.
With job growth stalled, to imply that single parents will get jobs if we just starve families a bit more is illogical and cruel. This is a government that has lost its way, and its heart and soul.
We have a high proportion of single parents in Newcastle. It’s time for Sharon Grierson and Greg Combet to stand up and support them.
Julia Gillard is back at work. Her first priority should be to reverse this thoughtless attack on our most vulnerable women and children.