In the brouhaha about sexism and misogyny, the passing of legislation to reduce single parent payments to the Newstart allowance when a child reaches the age of eight has gone comparatively unremarked.
The government will save some 700 million dollars through slashing up to one hundred dollars a fortnight off payments to about 150,00 single parents,the majority of whom are women.
With no evidence to support the theory, the government believes that forcing single parents into poverty and charity handouts will increase their ability to find work.
At the very least, one would expect that before taking this drastic action the government might have commissioned a study, an inquiry, a report, a something into what actually happens to people when you take away what little they already have. Off the top of my head I’d guess it makes them desperate. I’d guess it makes them depressed. Neither are states of mind conducive to taking charge of one’s life and neither are states of mind conducive to the best parenting.
Common sense would suggest that the way to get single parents off benefits and into the workforce is not to first reduce them and their children to crippling poverty. The “we will make you and your children homeless and hungry and then you’ll get a job, won’t you” approach is punitive, classist and I believe sexist.
I have no idea what the ALP stands for anymore. I have no idea what kind of a feminist Julia Gillard is when she delivers passionate speeches about misogyny and sexism while at the same time making life so much more difficult for some of the most vulnerable women in society.
If ever we were to plead “Somebody think of the children!” then now would be the time. Because it will be the children of single parents who will suffer most as a consequence of the Gillard government’s cuts.
So Ms Gillard can make as many fancy speeches as she likes about misogyny and sexism, while she’s willing to condemn women and children to living on a Newstart allowance that almost nobody considers even remotely adequate, just to achieve a budget surplus, her words are little more than a noisy bell and a clanging cymbal, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.