Magazine of the Socialist Party, Australian section of the CWI

Gillard pushes single parents into poverty

Last month Prime Minister Julia Gillard made international headlines after branding Opposition leader Tony Abbott a sexist and a misogynist in the federal parliament.

Many welcomed the lambasting of Abbott for his backwards views on women. However, he is not the only hypocrite in the parliament. The policies of the Gillard Government have shown that they too are happy to undermine women’s rights and conditions.

On the same day Gillard made her famous speech in Parliament she pushed forward a plan to move 100,000 single parents from parenting payments onto the Newstart Allowance. The changes mean that when their youngest child turns eight, single parents will be forced onto a lesser payment. This will mean that many of Australia’s poorest families, mostly those of single mothers, will lose between $60 and $100 per week.

The Gillard Government is attacking single mothers and driving them into poverty in order to save the government $728 million. The government claims that this move will make single parents look for work and in turn increase employment participation. The truth is that if they can find work it most certainly be low paid, irregular and insecure.

The Australian has reported that single parents face a 90% risk of falling into poverty. Many single parents who are currently studying will have to drop out of their courses.

A new analysis has reported that the change will not only hurt single parents but also those with a job that pays an annual income of up to $47,000. Like aged pensioners, these parents are eligible for a concession card. The card helps reduce their cost of living and its value is estimated at $60 a fortnight. But the National Welfare Rights Network has said that single parents who earn between $36,000 and $47,000 will lose this card as of next year.

Around $2.2 million people currently live in poverty in Australia and these changes will make that situation worse. The lack of adequate childcare and well paid jobs with flexible hours already puts single parent families at a disadvantage.

Forcing them to work low paid jobs, insecure jobs or lose their welfare payment will not resolve these problems. At the same time without proper investment in childcare, many working single parents find most of their paycheck ends up paying for childcare. It is a lose, lose situation.

Only by replacing the profit first system of capitalism with a democratic socialist system that is run in the interests of people can we ensure that childcare, housing, education and better employment options will be made available to all.

By Aishwarya Ramji