Friday, January 04, 2013

Australian single parents face more poverty

More than 2.2 million Australians, including almost 600,000 children, were living below the poverty line in 2010. From 1 January of 100,000 single parents - 90 per cent of whom are women - will be removed from the single or partnered parenting payment to Newstart. According to the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) , this will result in loss in weekly income of $60 to $110 a week for single parents when their child turns eight. Previously, this kicked in when the youngest child turned 16. A Senate Committee in November, for example, found the Newstart allowance was inadequate but did not recommend an increase because it did not know where the money would come from. cabinet minister Jenny Macklin argues this will encourage more people into the workforce. It won't. It will do is increase their poverty and misery. It will, also , save the Labor government $728 million in four years, which is the real reason Labor is doing it. In 2005, the current Finance Minister, Penny Wong, condemned the Howard's proposed changes, saying there was no evidence that ''dumping a sole parent or her children or a person with a disability in this country onto the lower dole payment would help them get work.''

 A journalist asked Macklin if she could live on $245 a week. She replied: ''I could.'' Not that she will, of course, since she is paid  is paid $6321 a week, almost 25 times a much as someone on the dole.

 People on the dole are more than $100 a week below the poverty line. There are also the working poor - those whose families earn the minimum wage for example. On the ACOSS figures it is about $100 a week below what is needed to survive. Indeed, more than 400,000 Australians in full-time work were living below the 50 per cent poverty line, as were almost that many again in part-time work.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development findings for Australia in its Divided We Stand report said the share of national income of the richest 1 per cent rose from 4.8 per cent in 1980 to 8.8 per cent in 2008. The share of the richest 0.1 per cent trebled, from 1 per cent to 3 per cent. While the earnings gap between the top 10 per cent and bottom 10 per cent of workers widened by one fifth.

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