Work or less welfare

This piece in yesterday’s Australian about sole parents is a good example of statistics being twisted to look good.

Nearly 1600 single mothers forced to look for part-time jobs under the Howard Government’s welfare-to-work policy have found employment.Figures show that the Government forced 3724 parents off single parent benefit and on to the dole between July 1 and December 8 last year, telling them to find part-time work. Of those, the Government boasts that 1580 people, mainly women, found jobs, typically in sectors such as retail, financial services, hospitality and community services.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Of course, another way of describing the figures is that over 2000 single parents have had their incomes cut through being forced onto the dole and are now forced to live even further below the poverty line.  Quite how cutting the already meagre income of a sole parent is supposed to help them find work is something the federal government has never explained, but for some reason this point rarely seems to be raised when the so-called ‘welfare to work’ changes are reported on.

Another thing the above figures don’t show is how many of those 1580 sole parents would have got a job anyway, regardless of having the government’s action in cutting their income and entitlements. It’s not as though all sole parents were previously incapable or unwilling to ever do paid again work under any circumstances.

I’m all for extra assistance and encouragement to help people back into the workforce.   I agree that welfare dependency is not a good thing.  I’m just not into forcing sole parents who can’t get a job into greater poverty in the meantime.

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  1. Senator,please answer the following questionWhat is a social welfare dependency /What are its symptoms/And what does it look like either clinically,or non-professionally?I have travelled into my fifty third year and now like some person from Waltzing Matilda your my sheep.The political process,industry,especially the media,are dependent on the simplification of nearly everything today,and well you,as part of that bastardry,until proven otherwise will not be left of the hook.Many attempts have been made by media organizations to push re employment,but not,without some personal or organizational capital.The work ethic is another,to me,blundering juggernaut,pitched up like crime for the bastard saviours own mediocre public displays.A hairy nose wombat who fell into a puddle of sparkling could do better sometimes.Nearly every wanker that goes on about the unemployed is challengeable on another front,eg, a exHIPPIEPOLICE Statitician,self described, claimed in the SMH that the unemployment rate had some bearing on crime rates.What would he know!The various parties have used the statistics,and all the matters other than officially being, unemployed do the damage.It is a convenient scapegoat for people who just love finding something to say about themselves.You would be sitting on the other side of the desk to me,half interested,pressured,and fully employed,to act as a government clerk of a Himmler type today,for the present government.Some of the laziest people with all sorts of problems I saw in the CES over a long period of time. I even knew one..fine chap..but a nutter too. I have been used more than once,by government services,no pay,no thank you,no recognition. This system we have politically is dependent on this reduction of peoples real value,for the obcenity of numbers and fictions of the opiniated. The bastard saviours love the somebody realities they are ..there is no red carpet with me.

  2. Senator, Your article raises many questions. First it appears that “welfare” is OK if one does not need it. Like (a) subsidized kindy for those earning over $70,000 pa. (b) Grants to industry and commerce who simply do not need it, but will accept;Corporate Welfare, that the present government is so fond of and the Labour movement has become used to sucking up to.
    Then there is the question that all parliamentarians avoid. The distribution of “Wealth.” Why do some, doing little or nothing, have so much? And others, working their guts out, have little? Your party has raised the Land Question but rarely speaks about it or the injustice of the present moronic system.

  3. Sorry I am dominating here so far,but thats the way the cookie crumbles.I have just read some opinion pieces in the Sydney Morning Herald…especially Saul the Banker,who I have heard quite often on the ABC.I specifically would like any readers of this blog take a look at what he thinks the economy is ,a series of figures from various sources whose analysis provides the term economy….And the attitude of economists to the economy.The unemployed and welfare recipients are considered outside the means to deliver greater competition,when he refers to efforts to still required on matters to do with competition,which means both worker related matters of cost and productive outcome…..Compare the news of cracking houses elsewhere to this competition matter and it wont seem immediately related,except for those who knows the sun doth shine..and making hay whilst the sun shines seems …….!I think bankers are smart about what figures mean to them,but what do the figures of cracked houses mean to owners?Essentially another insecurity,if the value of their house confronts them regularly into the future.There may be no essential measurable cost,if in fact,grey water will reduce this cracking ..I have my doubts..and if the professional advice given was put to a scientific test,for reasons of professional standards…and they were proven wrong…then there are a number of costs and court cases ahead.And will I get a job replacing the advise givers?No.because if I applied for a job,I am not suitably qualified.And what has this got to do with economists and bankers as observers and enforcers of competition in a way?Well,if I was proven right…they could take themselves to court against the advise giver,as house owners!It stinks,Why should a bankers opinion on competition be ruled out of interest,on matters to do with how our society should be.?A sports person burns calories,and thus works.A economist with computer figures in front,hardly needs that fitness level at all.

  4. Your’re absolutely right, Andrew.

    I’m glad you have the intelligence to understand how statistics can be twisted – even misrepresented – to prove that John Howard knows how to deprive children and (in most cases) their mothers of food and a reasonable standard of living, whether they are working or not.

    Sole parents need to know their rights.

    Some Centrelink officers are trying to push people beyond the limits of the legislation – forcing them to take on more hours of work than the guidelines require.

    They have had several shots at doing this to a woman I know who has worked during school hours 5 days a week, ever since her son started school.

    People should ask for a copy of the legislation and guidelines before agreeing to anything.

    I also think women born prior to 1 July 1955 should test their eligibility for a Widow Allowance if they were separated after the age of 40. It has more benefits and fewer requirements than the dole.

    We must also think of the disabled people being sent out to work, who will be even further disadvantaged by a Mobility Allowance that still won’t meet their costs.

    philip travers:

    You could try using grey water on the cracks – depends if you like termites better than cracks.

    My second son is a programmer and a very fit athlete. His relay team currently holds the national record for the 4 x 800 metres. Does this mean that he’s doing enough work for your liking?

    The real rate of inflation is generally twice what the economists tell us – another comment on the reliability of statistics, I suppose.

    One might also ask why welfare recipients, no matter how poor, are paying tax in the form of the GST. They should be able to claim the money back from the Taxation Dept at the end of the financial year.

  5. It also doesn’t mention how many kids are now being neglected because their sole carer is forced into paid work, or how many already fragile families are dissolving into total dysfunction due to the added strains on income and parenting time…

  6. Just what the hell is Philip Travers smoking? Has HE any idea what he’s writing about? Your point is well made, (and well written!), so how can you justify the publishing of such drivel?

  7. over time, the idea of welfare has shifted from providing for the needs of the less fortunate to a commercial transaction for which the recipient is expected to be grateful.

    gratitude is hard to fake, and so is happiness. being forced to accept whatever work is ‘offered’ to you, on whatever terms the empolyer chooses to ‘generously’ offer, is hardly the making of a good work relationship.

    with so much reliance upon coercion in our society, is it any wonder that the idea that a person works because they enjoy their job seems so strange. or for that matter, that there is so little respect about the place.

    it seems as though every social relationship must have a financial dimension to be ‘real’. social skills are recast as ‘customer relationship skills’ – that employees either have, or they get passed over for someone who does.

    actually caring about other people is wierd – and also transformed into a financial transaction: sponsor a child. in africa. why not put some effort into enabling parents to sponsor their own children?

    it’s curious that the wealthiest members of our community are, by and large, not the ones having children. the poor are blamed for the difficulties that come with raising children, but precious little is done to asist them – apart from pitiful handouts of money, coupled with some onerous expectations.

    it’s hard to be grateful when you’re struggling to comprehend.

    those in our society with the best prospects for reproducing are those with the least prospects of a meaningful education. let alone meaningful work that’s considered valuable enough to pay a liveable income.

    particularly when there are children at home.

  8. Andrew Bartlett:
    Ahh, I was wondering how they would keep the brothels well-stocked for Australia’s inward s*x tourism industry.

    Yep, welfare bludger figures reduced; hypothetical figures for tourism boosted. How could any political spin-doctor possibly lose with statistics like that to work on?

    Kids? Well, you just can’t allow kids to be put in grave moral danger because their single mothers choose immoral work in an evil profession (“sole parent” and “unmarried mother” are exactly the same thing, aren’t they?). These poor children can be removed from such sinful circumstances and put up for adoption by decent and deserving families.

    Gee, this welfare-to-work scam …. sorry, Policy …. is a real bobby-dazzler of a gold-plated vote-winner. The mugs will fall for it hook, line and sinker; they always do..

    Social costs? No money or votes in worrying about social costs ……..

  9. Good old Patricia Karvelas, the self-appointed vigilante on all things single mothers.

    The Australian Hotels Association also see Welfare to Work, and particularly the ‘flexibility’ of work choices, as an opportunity to prey upon single mothers and force them into turning down beds at midnight in their hotels because they can’t find enough backpackers and students willing to do this work. The Director has come up with this gem of a proposal, although he hasn’t considered the issue of child care, and states he doesn’t pay sick leave or overtime …

    ‘The project we are exploring in Adelaide is to look … at women who are single mothers returning to the workforce in a team based approach. You talk about productivity improvement. I have seen examples where a team of women has responsibility for two floors of housekeeping. The core of that work is at a certain point in time. They determine when and how they work, as long as the work is done. In terms of how you get a productivity advantage, it might be that, when a person’s daughter is sick, someone works for them. I do not pay sick leave and I do not pay overtime, but it is an opportunity for those people to work.’

    Thankfully one of the female committee members was assertive enough to question the ‘one-sided flexibility’

  10. Congratulations on your article on Single Parents and the so-called ‘Welfare to Work’. As you say, this attack on parents is iniquitous: apparently such (mostly) mothers, doing their best, are not ‘real’ mothers. Real mothers are those with husbands, preferably on high salaries, who deserve all sorts of government financial support – I even see Bronwyn Bishop talks of their being paid for ‘nannies’ – I presume a duty most likely carried out by single
    mothers forced to neglect their own children.
    I cannot undrstand why Labor does not take up, very strongly, this issue of ‘Welfare to work’ – which as far as I can see increases poverty traps (and work and family stress) rather than relieves these inequities.

  11. I am here on number 11 then I am not,shall I decide the Senator is drivelling.It would be easy ,how does this post stuff work here,all these people finding objections to what I say when over and over again they are engaging in their own fantasies,and my defence of a computer stuff up goes haywire.I fire off a joke as support to those I want to support it goes missing in action.

  12. Betty:

    An answer to your dilemma about the ALP: They don’t care about the poor either – only “middle Australia” – whose votes they need to get elected.

    A lot of people will vote for them solely on their promise to overturn the new IR laws, which is really important.

    I am against child care assistance for those on excellent household incomes. My husband and I paid all of our own child care costs when we were very young and very poor.

    We managed without flexible working hours, or extended shopping hours, in the days before the overuse of disposable nappies and child care centres providing meals became popular.


    You’re absolutely correct. The kids will become virtual orphans – and when they do, harsh laws will be enacted to prevent crime, which won’t work if the social issues aren’t addressed also – and we will think we are living in the USA.

    philip travers:

    Some people can’t understand what you write because you have too many (often excellent, but poorly explained) ideas lumped together.

    It’s sometimes hard to tell if someone is joking or being facetious, when we’re using “hard copy”.

  13. Single mothers don’t have a god-given right to other people’s money.

    The poverty line you mention is not a measure of povery but inequality. Those are different things and the word “poverty” is used only for rhetorical value.

    Despite all the fake generosity of the left (wanting to give away other people’s money) the reality is that the poverty trap is caused by high EMTRs and that lowering the base level of welfare will decrease EMTRs. Lower welfare can allow lower taxes, which also will decrease EMTRs.

    At some point the left will have to decide which is more important: helping poor people, or looking like you’re helping poor people.

  14. well we have had our chance to get rid of the howard govt and we did not do it .
    as i have sead many times before just how mutch damage will they do before they are kicked out agane.
    if the labor party dosent pic up some of thease issues soon they dont deserve to be in power either.

  15. I’ve heard Howard argue his policys are not extreme he argue we don’t have time limits on welfare etc like in the USA,but I wander as a admirer of all things american I wander if it’s not on his mind ,single mothers,time limits of welfare, surely this combo would tie in nicely with “workchoices”?

  16. John Humphrey

    Would you consider that married men and women ‘don’t have a god-given right to other people’s money?’ Because there’s a substantial population of partnered families receiving parenting pension partnered; FTA; FTB.

    What about corporate businesses with their minimal taxes; funding for innovative individuals (connected to Ministers) on dubious projects; unequal funding for schools; increased funding for Minister staffing; health; education; the Iraq war… etc.

    Given these payments are paid to a transient group of women (sometimes men) for 2-3 yrs max, who work hard to get themselves off benefits and become tax payers themselves, paying more tax than they ever received in benefits, I think it’s an intelligent investment.

    These women are not receiving the benefits the general public perceive them to be receiving in any case. Sinister policy planning ‘targeting single mothers’ have underhandedly created ‘debts’ of over $2000 for these women, as a claw back of benefits.

    Their benefits will cover their housing costs, a bit of food, possibly fuel for a car, and their paying GST on those items in any case. So there’s another claw back.

  17. John Humphreys:

    How many children have you raised on your own??

    The government protects non-paying absent parents at a huge cost to the taxpayer, while pretending to do something else.

    The Queensland government is now funding a full-time preschool year to greatly reduce the child care costs and suit the convenience of working couples – and Bronwyn Bishop is pushing for subsidised nannies for the wealthy.

    Working couples want it all, and the government is giving it to them, regardless of their financial circumstances.

    This is why the ALP has its cap set at “middle Australia”, using their Howard look-alike.

  18. Julien:

    Yes, we are still following the USA in any direction they lead, and have been for decades.

    It seems we are incapable of learning anything from their mistakes, without repeating them ourselves first.

  19. It seems all those who know absolutely all there is to know about parenting welfare and others are here including me with a post gone missing,that said it was being moderated.

    A very rich man in Australia ,who left school at twelve and now owns a international think tank..and frightens Lib and Lab alike would be today seen as a welfare problem. So while all those accusers of the Left are badgering away,it is hardly ever going to be real what they say and the last people to speak should be anyone who claims all sorts of things.  And the Senator isnt really helping himself..after all if there is a possibility to be intelligent in that limitation, outside of it could be more thorough,posters are competing here unintelligently.

  20. John Humphreys [on 13]:

    Single mothers don’t have a god-given right to other people’s money


    I would rather see my taxes go towards helpng a single parent, grandparent or responsible relative (such as an elder brother or sister) raise a kid in a caring environment and in proverbial Frugal Comfort.

    I myself am fed up with “all the fake generosity of the [government] (wanting to give away other people’s money)” to dodgy businesses of very doubtful real-world viability and to everyone else in the bludger economy whose profitability, despite all the pretty documentation, ultimately comes from sucking on the public tit. Competition policy? My eye!

    And would you be so kind as to leave that failed explanation of the poverty trap back in the 20th Century ….. as well as such quaint obsolete terms as The Left, The Right, phrenology, motor-omnibus, steam-packet, etc. This is 2007 and we do have terms that are appropriate to the realities of living in 2007. “The Left” – that term is almost Shakespearean in its antiquity and theatricality.

  21. It was an absolute delight (as a citizen of Qld.) to read your blog Senator. You have provided such an extraordinary rationale for your argument of “Work or Less Welfare.”

    As I did not enter into the contract of marriage to be used as an inexpensive target for a pugilistic husband, regretably it seems that by Government criteria, I am no longer to be considered worthwhile.

    To protect our child from following in his father’s footsteps and therefore future Court appearances for offences such as assault et al, I became a single parent.

    I clocked up a minimum of 1000 hours voluntary work with a notable Charity organisation BEFORE IT BECAME A LEGISLATED requirement, until my health had seriously deteriorated to its current state.

    Close to 50 and with a Primary school aged child, I have been diagnosed with medical conditions that are inoperable and cause moderate to severe pain 24/7.

    Additionally, my child has been diagnosed as having significant learning disabilities,
    none of which have been caused by being raised by a single parent.

    He had 2 operations before even starting school, and prior to his latest “disability” diagnosis.

    From his “father” he received no financial contribution for either operation, gap payments for Specialists, assessment fees of $310 (speech pathology)$250 (auditory processing)for which no medicare rebate is applicable.

    Until 2 years ago he received at the most $28 a month in Child Support. Yet the ‘Shared Care Legislation’ paid his “father” $116 a month from my family tax benefit.

    Now thanks to your political associates and their “spin doctored media releases” I am being portrayed as being of no use to society and not worthy of financial assistance despite having paid 50 cents in the dollar tax prior to marriage.

    Since when has the fulltime job of ‘Parent’ been reduced to a dollar value?

  22. WearyMum:
    Good on you!! You are definitely worth feeding …. which is more than can be said for some of those who infest Andrew Bartlett’s out-of-town workplace. And I’m glad you mentioned doing voluntary work BEFORE the nong-nongs made it near complsory.

    You are of real use to society and I am happy to see my taxes support you and people like you.

  23. graham bell seems like a kind enough person supporting the harassed single mums of the world,but,I just wonder if his taxes have.This is the boring argument,put up by those who claim all things to themselves including the relevant dominant and final authority on what is the work ethic,and any other sense of being one better.Graham may not have it,but I am from out of town,with its own apparent inflation,and services,in some other town..and regionalism is all the go..and it becomes all to clear when spud picking is the only work,that equality is not an option for farmer or worker to drive things by guilt is unproductive..As it is assuming in every case..a little bit of hard work wont harm does..and those that do need also good intentions and welfare assistance,and other ways of nourishing being alive.

  24. WearyMum:

    We are living in the days where parenting has no value at all.

    Like you, I have done years of voluntary work while raising a child on my own.

    Centrelink suggested I do a 2 year university counselling course which would only lead to more voluntary work.

    Other people suggested doing a TESOL course (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) – more voluntary work.

    I can see a day coming when all work will become voluntary, with all workers receiving a Work for the Dole payment.

    Centrelink suggested that I go onto a Widow Allowance.

    After discussing it with my doctor, I applied for a Disability Support Pension. I have had a disability for more than 20 years after suffering a workplace injury in the Department of Social Security.

    I still do voluntary work in a nursing home and make craft items for charities that I consider worthwhile.

  25. It is here I apologise, sincerely and regret some attitudes in my posts to Coral.Yep!It is even easier being contemptful by being the form fillers and the why dont you do this ..staff everywhere to be found,amongst the positive members of our society,hell bent on reducing the value of someone else to carry on as before.Looks like the fully uninjured judges of us all the Abbott and his job snobs will also open their personal housing to raise the kids from rape as a good Catholic,and have Coral inspect it to meet the standards of foster care.Methinks she would frighten a good Catholic or three in such a position and its only her qualifications that are holding her back.For she is actually someone you could be fond of.

  26. Philip Travers [on 23]:
    Like you, I live out bush too.

    I started hard work for low pay at 14 (and unpaid a bit earlier); throughout my working life, I paid enough tax to need to live to age 137 to get it back in pension payments …. so I feel quite justified in supporting those less fortunate than me.

    My attitude is rather different towards those who did not enter the workforce until they were in their late-twenties, who get paid outrageously high salaries and perqs and who get their jollies out of sinking the boot into those not wealthy enough to enjoy their own selfish bloated lifestyle.

    Only complete loafers want something for nothing – almost every welfare recipient I have ever known had not gone on welfare out of choice but out of necessity.

  27. Point of interest perhaps-My daughter just finished senior and is contemplating direction.We’ve had a hint dropped to us by a young couple who both earn over a thousand dollars a week,own outright a half million dollar block and in the middle of having a Skase type mansion built.An australian nanny will set them back a thousand for spotters fee to providers and 500 a week for the nanny.Or they can get an overseas nanny for the spotters fee and between 180 and 250.They’re hoping my daughter might consider less.Some future.

  28. humanity’s grey areas:

    I think there must be a good future in nannying, now that all women are expected to work until they’re 70, and raise 3 children each.

    Surely there is some kind of industrial award covering the job which would ensure your daughter is fairly paid. I hope so anyway.

  29. I agrre welfare recipiants continue to get the rough end of the stick whilst middle class welfare increases..The latest activity statments are getting more difficult to adhere toby whatim told. Also disability support pensioners now get less and are meant to fubnd their own visit to specialist for a report to Centrelink..

  30. I am pleasantly surprised at the responses.
    Maybe there is a more literate and thoughtful group using computers rather than being stuck in the front bar of the local grumbling about what they “dun t’ me”.
    Graham Bell, who seems fairly conservative, admitted that welfare rorting is not the only or probably even most serious leakage occuring throughout our Chaucerian society. He’s probably right, too in suggesting therefore that some people do do little to help themselves.
    I beleive if you want people off welfare, FIRST do something about unemployment and its causes ( beyond scapegoating the victims of bodgy policies for cheap votes from prejudiced and ignorant voters and RORTING the unemployment figures).
    Having experienced being on welfare myself, I would suggest furthermore that welfare is not the mode of choice for the majority of those forced to receive it.
    The reality of current trends showed up with the example of Blundstones, Aussie boot manufacturers for over a century.
    The jobs that used to soak up unemployment are now “off shore”.
    But some politicians are happy to exploit this by instigating parallel IR oppression, rather than easing the grief, or encouraging example setting from both themselves and corporate North Shore hypocrites who also make the final decisions. Instead they push for a sort of embryonic slave society.
    In short, Tony Abbott and others should put up or shut up, rather than demanding of others what they are not prepared to accept for themselves.
    They persecute the workforce knowing full-well the real situation and that’s vicious, to me.
    But to me, “mutual obligation” by definition, should come from both sides of the equation, not just those on the receiving end, at both ends.

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