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Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single parents

The 'Welfare to Work' package is a fraud buried by the tactic of announcing broad policy and waiting till the debate dies down before producing an enormous piece of legislation, allowing virtually no time for Senate inquiry and input from the people, and slamming it through Parliament without proper debate. With terror and IR dominating discussion, disadvantaged Australians and their children have been left voiceless. Webdiary broke the story that when the government refused to say how single parents and people on disabilities would be affected income wise by the changes, women's groups across the country scrabbled together the money to get quality reasearch done by NATSEM. The Government's response was to threaten to cut the funding of the women's groups involved.

The PM refused to answer the Law Council of Australia's letter on terror, or Liberal MP Judi Moylan's letter asking why incomes would be cut quite drastically for people on disabliity and single parent pensions. Labor has not helped the cause by leaving all the work to Senator Penny Wong, shadow minister for employment and workforce participation. Where were the voices of Beazley, Swan and Macklin to back her up? And where were the tough questions by the media, which has let the Government sail through this debate without even admitting what it's really doing.

I recently asked my cleaner, who has three young children and a big mortgage after a property settlement with her ex-husband, what she thought of the changes. They didn't understand the lot of a single parent, she said. If your child is sick or in trouble you have to walk out of your job and tend to them. There's noone else. So what regular job could she get? A few years ago the government was telling women to go forth and multiply, she said, and wealthy families got big subsidies for one partner to stay at home to look after their kids full time while kids with one parent were now being told to do without her full time care.  That's what she thought. 

Here is the speech on the changes Penny Wong has just given in the Senate.

What's the link, I wonder, between this package and IR? The government says there is none...


*


Penny Wong

Labor believes that people who can work, should work. And those who can't, we should care for. Everyone benefits when more people can participate in the social and economic mainstream. Work is one of those essential things, like family and friends, that gives meaning to our lives. That's why Australia needs real welfare reform.

But contrary to its name, this Bill doesn't move people from welfare to work. It just dumps people from one welfare payment, to a lower welfare payment. These laws are the final stage of Prime Minister's tired old dreams becoming the new Australian nightmare. These laws allow the creation of a working poor in Australia; they force people to take jobs with low pay, bad conditions and no security. They remove the protection that jobless Australians have had from exploitation. They say, if you are unemployed, you can be paid dirt or get nothing at all.

With these laws, the Prime Minister has recast Australia with American dye. With its fixation on ideological obsessions, the Howard Government is redrawing Australia in the American social model, where violence has replaced justice; where communities have become gangs and neighbours are enemies. This is what happens when you tear at a social fabric, when you assign moral failure to the vulnerable. When you say that people who are struggling are lazy or morally defective.

This is what happens when people are forced to fight each other for the basic necessities of life. In America, the social security system offers virtually no financial security for the jobless. The result is an army of working poor that competes in a no-win race to the bottom, for low paid work. In America, the result is that you can be employed and still homeless. It means you can be employed and unable to feed your family. The result is social instability. People need to eat, people need security, and if they can't get that from work they will look for other means.

The Howard Government does not believe in fairness. We saw that last week, when they refused to allow the word 'fair' to be among the objectives of into the industrial relations system. We see it in this Bill, where protections from poverty and exploitation are deleted.

Australians have always understood that not only do we care about ourselves, not only do we have a belief in ourselves, not only do we have a desire to live in dignity ourselves, but we also want the same for each other. We believe in each other's worth; we believe in our neighbour's right to live in dignity. Under the Howard Government, the iconic Australian value of fairness will become an historical footnote.

The Bill is littered with flaws, but I will limit myself to the most grotesque flaws that render these laws un-Australian and unacceptable.

The cold heart of the Howard Government's changes to welfare is a cut to income support for vulnerable Australians. People who would have been eligible for the Parenting Payment or the Disability Support Pension will instead be dumped onto the dole. The dole is not adequate to meet the basic needs of either of these groups.

The Bill will abolish Parenting Payment for sole parents with a youngest child aged 8 or more and for partnered parents with a youngest child aged 6 or more (the cut-off age is currently 16). Existing recipients at 1 July 2006 will stay on Parenting Payment unless their relationship status changes or they leave the pension for 12 weeks or more.

And it will abolish Disability Support Pension for people with a 'partial capacity,' that is who could work 15 hours or more (currently 30), or who could be expected to be able to work at that level within 2 years, with or without rehabilitation, training or education. Existing recipients at 11 May 2005 remain qualified, those granted between 11 May 2005 and 30 June 2006 will be reviewed.

The basic cut to the money in people’s pockets is bad enough – around $20 a week cut for single parent families and around $40 a week cut for people with a disability. From July 1 next year, many people who would have received the Disability Support Pension or the Single Parenting Payment will instead be dumped onto Newstart, what most people call the dole.

By 2008-2009, according to the Government's own figures, 60,000 people with a disability who would have received the DSP will instead receive the dole, as will 77,000 single parents who would have received the Parenting Payment. Not only does the dole provide less money for these vulnerable Australians, who have many additional expenses associated with their circumstances, it has a lower 'free' area, has higher withdrawal rates and harsher tax treatment than both the Disability Pension and the Single Parenting Payment. That means that when they get dumped onto the dole, they will get to keep less of each dollar they earn.

The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling recently undertook modelling research on these changes. According to their research, which the Government has not been able to refute, if a sole parent with one child does the right thing, and works fifteen hours a week, they will only keep $81 of their earnings, while John Howard claws back the other $114 in tax and loss of social security payments.

That makes such a parent $91 per week worse off by moving into work under these changes than if they moved into work under current arrangements. The Howard Government is effectively asking sole parents to work for a return of $3.88 an hour, because for their 15 hours work a week they are only $58 ahead of someone not working. And that's before they pay for the costs of work, the travel, the clothing, the care for their children.

The absurdity is highlighted for a single parent who receives Parenting Payment and works part-time. Without changing her rosters or earnings, she suddenly ends up working for less return, just because her youngest child has turned eight! Just because she gets dumped onto the dole and has to give more of her earnings back to the Government.

The Senate Inquiry heard a case study of how these changes would punish people for working more: Sally and Claire are in identical situations. They share a house and both have a seven year old daughter. They receive Parenting Payment (Single) and work fifteen hours a week in a minimum wage job at the local childcare centre, earning $200 a week in private income, with total income of $390 a week from both PPS and work. In July 2006, Claire picks up additional hours at the childcare centre, and as a result of the additional income, her Parenting Payment Single is cancelled. In November 2006, the childcare centre downsizes and Claire's hours are reduced back to fifteen hours a week. Under the proposed legislation, Parenting Payment will be abolished for new applicants whose children are over eight from 1 July 2006, and the lower Newstart allowance payment rate and harsher income test will apply. As a result, Claire will receive only $322 a week - $68 a week less than Sally.

Two sole parents in identical situations will receive different amounts of financial support to look after identical families. One will receive around 16% less income than before the changes because she accepted additional work which only lasted five months (ie more than the twelve week gap before payment is cancelled).

For people with a disability, the situation is even worse, because the DSP is not taxable but the dole is. According to NATSEM, if a person with a disability works fifteen hours a week at the minimum wage, they keep only 25 cents of every dollar they earn, while John Howard takes back the other 75 cents. That makes such a person $122 per week worse off by moving into work under these changes than if they moved into work under current arrangements.

The Howard Government is effectively asking people with a disability to work for a return of $2.27 an hour. Again, that's before the costs of work are taken into account. People could very easily end up paying to work under these changes. What greater symbol of incompetence could there be, than promising welfare reform but delivering a policy that makes work less financially attractive than welfare.

The Howard Government has failed to provide a scrap of evidence that moving people onto the dole will help them get a job. No modelling, no relevant international studies, nothing. They just keep repeating themselves, saying 'welfare to work, welfare to work' as if spellbound in a mantra. They just return to their rain dance, waiting for job opportunities to shower down on people. Another flashing, fluorescent beacon of the Howard Government's incompetence is their failure to match the hundreds of thousands of jobless Australians with the jobs that exist now in the labour market.

How many times do we need to be told that Australia faces a skills crisis before the Howard Government acts?

You don't solve the skills crisis by dumping people onto the dole. But you certainly don't solve the skills crisis by making it harder for jobless Australians to train – which is what these changes will do. The Pensioner Education Supplement is what enabled pensioners – including people with a disability and single parents – to help cover the costs of education, so they could get the skills they needed to get a job.

But these changes slam that door shut. And what if you're dumped onto the dole and you want to study part-time? Forget it. Say you're a single parent and you want to become a nurse. You either study full-time while trying to feed your family on Austudy, or you allow the Howard Government's new Australian nightmare to crush your dreams.

Tania's story

Recently I spoke at the national conference of the National Council for Single Mothers and their Children, where I encountered a remarkable mother. Tania is a single mother who has tried desperately to get herself an education so she can better look after her two young children. While she is completing her Honours year, she is also tutoring students and marking papers. And she collects plastic bottles to help make ends meet.

Tania later wrote to me with her story. She said:

Having sole care of two children, with no family, few friends, having to take responsibility for everything from the rubbish to mowing the lawn, managing homework and my own studies, let alone working out how to pay the bills and provide the basic necessities, is physically and emotionally exhausting. I have not so much as been out for a movie or a meal in 8 years – and to be honest if I did have an extra few dollars a week I’d spend it on a second meat meal for the children’s dinner. There have been many times in the past 18 months when I have not been able to sit down and eat with my children - there simply hasn’t been enough. I haven’t slept past 7:30am one single morning, or a day off in 8 years.

That's the lot of the single mother who's trying to make a go of it. In a shocking indictment of Howard Government policy, listen to how she now feels after spending years trying to gain financial independence:

I would have been wise to stay in government housing, accept welfare, and reject the constant fear, shame and humiliation that haunt me in not knowing if I can pay the rent. Just once it would be nice to let the children buy their lunch at school, take them to the movies occasionally and buy them a brand new pair of shoes. My own radical social experiment failed –my dreams cannot come to fruition under the current circumstances – this can no longer be achieved.

 
Of course, these laws will only make the struggle harder for people like Tania. No provision for part-time study, no Pensioner Education Supplement. The Prime Minister simply saying, "If you can't afford your own education, forget improving your skills. Never mind the skills crisis, just collect plastic bottles until your back breaks or you retire."

Breaching

Mothers like Tania will be the first collateral in Howard's ideological war. If the job Tania was offered did not provide pay and conditions that enabled her to support her family adequately, too bad. She would have to take it or lose income support for eight weeks. Eight weeks!

The same penalty would apply if Tania were dismissed from her job. If Tania were dismissed for misconduct; even if this was unfair, she faces losing eight weeks of income support.

As an acknowledgement of their own policy dysfunction, the Government has conceded that Centrelink will step in and provide emergency relief for these families. That's what Australian social security is being reduced to – bureaucrats buying food for children because their parents don't have the money!

But what costs will Centrelink cover? Rent? Maybe. Clothing? Possibly. School excursions for the children? Sporting activities? Maths tutoring? Families like Tania will be the first collateral in John Howard's ideological war. But they won't be alone for long.

Conclusion

I have confined myself to the larger of the two Bills that are before the Senate. Senator Evans will cover the Family and Community Services Amendment. The Government will shortly ram this legislation through the Parliament, legislation that pushes people who are struggling, right over the edge.

There is no evidence to justify dumping people onto lower support payments. But evidence doesn't mean anything to a Government that is out of control, intent on lowering the living standards of Australians, starting with the most vulnerable.

Australia needs welfare reform but the last thing Australia needs are these extreme and incompetent changes, masquerading as welfare reform. Australia needs real welfare reform that tackles the reason someone isn't working and delivers practical solutions. Australia needs real welfare reform, which is why Labor opposes the Employment and Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment Bill. I move the Second Reading Amendment being circulated in my name.

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re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

It is bad enough to see how mothers like Tania suffer. (And I have been there, this is an accurate description and can only get worse from here on). It is unforgivable that children must also be treated as unworthy.

The whole 'get a job' thing is a complete con. I may be persuaded if a politician agrees to swap lives with me for two weeks.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

How does Tania think working parents get it all done? They are just as tired. Yet they believe that there is pride in supporting yourself. They have made better choice, picked their mates with more care and thought, and not expected the government to raise their children. Tania should worry less about sleeping past 7:30 than working her butt off to give her kids a positive role model. She should whine less and work harder. Take a second job. Think why she has no friends. Imagine these people have time to go on the internet but not time to work.

Margo: Karen, full name please, or follow the procedure set out in Webdiary ethics.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

In the last few weeks I have been assisting a friend with a mild intellectual disability apply for the single parent payment. It has been interesting to note that she has been counselled on what to expect in the future as if this legislation was already in place. There was obviously no question in the minds of staff that this would be passed.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

Australia needs real welfare reform that tackles the reason someone isn't working and delivers practical solutions.

I dodged work for half of the 80's. Hung out with some like-minded bums and had a ball. But I was always scrupulous about meeting my social security obligations; attending interviews, applying for lots of jobs I wasn't quite going to get, and generally playing the game. How on earth could the government have distinguished between me and some poor sod who was actually trying to find a job? Of course, they couldn't, and any attempts to coerce me just needlessly punished the truly disadvantaged.

The government needs to put away the cattle prod, sack the field officers and social workers, stop trying to fix unsolvable problems and just pay everyone who satisfies the work and income tests the same basic amount with no questions asked.

The whole complicated structure, with its Parenting Payment, Newstart, DSP etc. needs to be scrapped and replaced with one equal payment (plus an allowance per child) for everyone who, for whatever reason, is not working.

Practical solutions from government? Not likely. They should just pay up and mind their own business.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

Oh these new bills will create jobs.

More police, more construction jobs building prisons, more prison guards, more security people....

I am appalled at the insensitivity of the Govt on this and the IR bills. Those that can least afford to will lose even more. What future for those families.

I predict that crime rates will increase, and more people will succumb to mental health issues, leading perhaps to an increase in the suicide rate.

Even Blind Freddy can see that these bills are a direct attack on the disadvantaged in this country and can only be the product of a spiteful and anti-social mindset.

Also expect further attacks on Medicare, as the Govt furthers the agenda of its real masters in Washington.

No wonder the Government sees urgency for updating sedition legislation, and broadening the definition of 'terrorist'.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

Heartless. Pointless. If these retrograde steps become fixed we will be all the poorer for it. Our political system is rotten to the core if this kind of legislation can be rammed through even when it hasn't been drafted properly in the first place. Political parties are simply gangs that have taken over parliament where the overseer makes sure the underlings obey the master. Very little that is democratic about the way Liberal and Labor work so it's no wonder they don't understand how parliament is supposed to work.

Also interesting to note that the government didn't allow the word 'fair' to be used in the IR objectives....after they'd pulped thousands of propaganda leaflets to put the word in (well 'fairer' to be precise)!! What a bunch of hypocrites.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

I'm sure that we will discover other explicit links once there is time to read the fine print...but they will only reflect the dominant link between the two: Howard and his advisors who are mean, nasty, and vindictive with not a gram of understanding between them of the plight of less fortunate people in this society.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

The rationale for changes to the system has been based on a false determination of the level of unemployment. But far from encouraging welfare dependent people out into a brave new world of workplace participation with personal renewal as an apt parallel to social renewal, the system creates a "churning" of a hidden pool of real unemployed denied by government and Tabloid press; as described by the "Age" commentator Kennneth Davidson recently.

Wong has highlighted the unfairness of creating a rat-race for actually-scarce jobs, but observes the connection here between the "welfare to nervous breakdown" policy; as exacerbated by the horrendous new IR rules, which reduce ordinary workers to the level of virtual serfdom, whilst simultaneously ramping up pressure both for workers trying hold on to work under deteriorating conditions. Meanwhile, a new bigger pool of even more desperate unemployed being harrassed by breaching rules into being forced to virtually "scab" against their employed neighbours,selling out their moral values in the process, also, to escape the hounding of social security apparatchiks.

Some call this "competition". But many, observing the easy run given fat-cat tax-dodging criminals by ideologically-driven cranks of "mate" politicians, know full-well that "competion" is a pretty hollow concept, at least when employed as coercive Mugabe-ist class warfare against the "battling" majority, while the privileged few are given an armchair ride by the morally-bankrupt supposed referees of the system.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

Karen,
I found your comments unthinking and judgemental. Exactly what we don't want in leadership. We need leaders who can protect the needy and most vulnerable and not punish those who are born with disadvantages or who are trying to make a go.

Karen, I wonder how much sympathy you would want when you are vulnerable - or in your imagination do people like you never get down and out? Karen, stop critising and looking after yourself, get a conscience, a morality and a sophisticated understanding of human nature and fraility. The days of punishment, stiff upper lip and judgement are over. Think about things and don't just react emotionally and in your benefit.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

These changes are all based on the faith of Howard and his supporters that they will work. The facts demonstrate that what they are destroying has brought Australia to the fortunate state that it is now in despite their attempts to portray the last nine years as a golden age. It's been the combined effort of a dozen governments, Labor and Coalition. The social security changes will be chaos and only result in hardship and change little. The changes in how workers can be hired and sacked will do little for the economy.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

Excuse me, does anyone else here see the delicious irony of Margo Kingston, a fist-in-the-air advocate of the proletariat, employing a cleaner?

What's the matter, Margo, too good to clean up your own mess?

Margo: Are you capable of an orginal thought, Hal?

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

A very worrying trend evident for some time but which is going to become even more prevalent is the increased barriers for the children of poor families to enter into vocational training and education, often as part of a generational denial of access to poor people.

As the researchers state:

It reports that those young people most likely to miss out on vocational education and training include those with disabilities, young people still living at home, children from single-parent families and those families with a history of parental unemployment. Those individuals face patterns of 'cumulative disadvantage'. In addition, the report argues strongly for striking a balance between the pursuit of social and economic outcomes as being essential for community-based initiatives aimed at addressing access and equity in vocational education and training.

Watch these barriers become even higher as Howard next turns his gaze to dismantling the already cash-strapped TAFE system, only protected at the moment because of the state Labor governments' policy commitments to it.

Howard has handed over control of the workforce to greedy opportunists, while at the same time leaving a vast hole in addressing training needs and skills shortages. Where is the "mutual obligation" now for both employers and for Centrelink? How many employers are going to commit to training? What should the Government be doing to address this training gap?

Sunila I wouldn't worry about "Karen". It's a troll. Don't feed it.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

This is a mean spirited, penny pinching government which is totally out of control. What is the purpose of all this except to drive people to despair? What was wrong with the old system anyway? So a few people rorted the system, big deal, politicans and their mates do it all the time. They even get appointed to the Reserve Bank!

But no , let's pick on the disabled and single parents. I mean the disabled can still work can't they? And single parents, well, it's their own fault their single. They make their bed etc. So they should just get off their lazy backsides and get a job. Doesnt matter what kind of job or what pay they get. They can work 2 or 3 jobs if they need to. Their kids can come home to an empty house. So what if they never see their parent. And if they turn to crime , why we can just lock them up just like in the US. Our good friends over there have the right idea on what to do with these lazy poor people. After all, being poor is your own choice and not the governments problem.

I am sure this is what Howard and his fellow neo-cons think. I mean I have heard this sort of thing before from people who have absolutely no idea what it is like in the real world. A world where life is a daily stuggle to make ends meet, keep food on the table and care for your children . I have been there and it is damn hard. I don't know how I would have survived under these draconian laws.

Howard has an awful lot to answer for. I just hope people remember all of this come the next election.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

Calculate your income for eight weeks.

Imagine being cut-off from that income for eight weeks. You have no savings, no prospects of financial support from family or friends.

How do you pay the rent, food or medicine?

What public policy outcome is achieved by the imposition of this fine?

Even if someone had committed a heinous crime, we would still not think of depriving them of food, shelter and other basic neccesities.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

I’m not averse to the idea of encouraging single parents to work as their kids get older, but if you are effectively making them work for $3.88 an hour you’re not serious about it. As Penny Wong point out, all this does is “make work less financially attractive than welfare”. It’s crap policy, by any measure. And making people with a disability work for $2.27 an hour? Come on. What exactly is the point of this legislation?

The thing that really pisses me off is that the Government currently screwing those at the bottom of the Australian ladder is also one of the most profligate Governments we’ve ever had.

It spent $1 billion on the ‘pacific solution’ to keep a few reffos out of the country. It spent $55 million in advertising trying to convince us that we’ll all be better off under the new IR legislation, a blatant lie that nobody is buying. (And that’s just a small part of its billion dollar political advertising bill.) The money it saves, in the form of a huge surplus, is kept aside to buy us all off at election time with tax cuts.

Howard is no longer governing for all Australians, if he ever did. If you’re at the margins of society you don’t count.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

Hal What a totally dumb comment about cleaners. Busy people from all walks of life employ cleaners - it provides something called "employment" for quite a number. That wasn't cheap shot; it was just nasty.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

The great "boomtime" is already here ... but not quite as expected. See here which says in part:

"BUSINESSES are preparing for a miserly Christmas and an unhappy new year, having let their stock levels run down in the months before the traditionally busy festive period, figures reveal."

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

Hal Turner (06/12/2005 12:22:35 PM), what the hell is wrong with employing a cleaner? You have totally lost me there. And thanks Russell Darroch for your reply to Hal's rancourous pig swill.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

And the "boomtime" benefits just keep on rolling - now in the rural sector: here which says:

"The Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has found that only 27 per cent of Australia's primary producers expect the agricultural economy to improve over the next year, down from 39 per cent in the previous quarter."

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

S Kirby Frankly I don't know when Margo finds time to sleep much less clean; harder to hire sleepers for oneself than cleaners though. (And I'll bet that her cleaner is proud as punch to say "I'm Margo Kingston's cleaner.")

Kerri: Hi Russ. I imagine trolls don't need cleaners, they like to leave a mess.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

Margo, thanks for posting the above subject and the responses from readers are also of interest.

With the Federal Parliament now in its last week, one could be concerned at the government's intent on ramming through major bills which will affect the majority of Australians.

With the Senate to resume debate on the welfare bills tonight, debate will be restricted and the vote is predictable. It is interesting to see the selling of these welfare reforms being pushed by the government and one can check the latest press release from Minister Dutton via the DEWAR website.

I have concerns at the affects of these changes on those Australians who have accessed the Disability Support Pension DSP since the 2005 May Budget and for those who - in the new year will also apply for this pension.

I think it is un-Australian for a government to inflict heartache on those who are less well-off. Back in the early 1990's a former senator said to me that "there will always be a safety net".

The safety net which is provided by the Commonwealth is clearly under severe threat and perhaps this issue - like the "Workchoices" will haunt the Howard led, Coalition Government up to the next federal election.

Although amendments have been made to the welfare legislation,one could also ask; where are the jobs going to come from? I heard a government senator say in the Senate last night, 100,000 jobs are going to be created. Where?

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

The legislation is wrong because it penalises again those that have already been penalised in life... the disabled.
The disabled do not choose to be disabled nor do they choose to live on already poverty level means of existence. The disabled do not choose to be discriminated against because of their malady.

I am sure their would be ways to integrate and help the disabled into work that they could do for a few hours a day. This legislation does not do this. In fact if you put together the workplace relations bill and this bill all it does is the make the challenge more difficult. In fact it cuts the income which is already marginal.

Where will the positions be for the disabled? This is a question for Senator Eric Abetz who continues to sqander the time of the Senate by giving childish non answers every time a detail is requested on how this legislation will work.

The legislation stinks! It does not seek to help the disabled at a time when the Fed's are swimming in surpluses. Instead the legislation discriminates adversely and seeks to penalise further those least able to take it!

How can anyone do this? Not least those entrusted to care for the whole of society.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

Mardi, cash? What's that? ;-) Something from the old economy?

Yes, so many people do cleaning jobs at some point in their life; always amuses me how some people view "them/us"... ah, perspective.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

Um, I've done house cleaning and there is no shame in either the job, or having a cleaner, OK everybody?

I would gladly clean or do any other kind of job if the income I earned was not completely docked away by government, which is what is already happening and is now going to be made even worse by this short-sighted leglislation.

I am one of those dratted sole parents (just where are their morals? under the bed?). Currently I am on a contract, which ends soon, so I am only a whisker away from falling back into the black hole. I am starting to panic, because I feel as if I have done exactly the right thing - I am raising three children (who will be the taxpayers wiping everyone's backsides in nursing homes - think on that for a bit); I am studying to contribute to the community according to my abilities; I have paid plenty of tax in the past,pre-children, my partner (now ex) paid loads of tax while we were together; I am now self-sufficient (and paying lots of tax).

I will be unable to manage on Newstart. I am scanning the house already for things to sell to Cash Converters if that day comes.

Don't get me wrong. I am happy to pay tax. A Fair amount. By Fair I mean the real, not the twisted, meaning. What is now prescribed in Welfare to Work is Not Fair. You are damned if you do and damned if you don't. Not even a hint of hope for the future.

Margo, I sincerely hope you pay your cleaner Cash!

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

Mardi Black, I agree the only way our politicians will understand your position is for them to "swap lives" with you.

Maybe we should tie John Howard to a wheelchair for a few months and give him a couple of hundred bucks a week to live on. Maybe little Johnny who lived with his mum till he was thirty-two should experience life in the real world.

I remember some years ago a politician thought recipients of the dole were paid too much. The silly bugger took up a challenge to live on the dole. I cracked up laughing when this stupid politician went to do his shopping armed with whatever the dole was at the time.

He filled his trolley up with groceries and had to give a whole lot back (at the check out) when he ran out of cash. He aborted his challenge and retired hurt (and totally embarassed).

You will never get a polly to demonstrate how one can live on the dole. I once wrote to Sue Vardin (boss lady at Centrelink at the time) and asked her to supply me with details how recipients of the dole could survive on just the dole. I am still waiting on a reply.

The fact is nobody can survive on the dole alone, except of course if you live with mummy.

I am also waiting on John Howard to reply to my offer to audit all politicians' expense claims. I said I would work on a commission basis only and would be happy to retain just one dollar in ten that I could save for the taxpayer. I assured him that with me doing all this work no politician would get away with rorting the Australian taxpayer ever again. I am still waiting on a reply.

The sad thing is it is pretty well impossible to live on benefits. Everybody knows it but no one cares until they find themselves in that position. Expecting the disabled to go on Newstart is a disgrace and a far greater crime than earning a few bucks on the side.

I said in another thread words to the effect, a little bit of petty crime is far more socially beneficial than just plain greed which is socially destructive. This government panders to to the greedy and shits on the needy.

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

Have heart Mardi Black. I genuinley believe these changes will be largely unworkable. Except the putting of all benefit receivers on the same lower rate which is just mean and nasty.

How someone survives on $200 a week is a mystery when they have to pay rent. The millions saved by this savage cut must come from somewhere it is spent - the supermarket, landlords, pubs, utilities fruit & veg stall holders. Really this is a cut that affects small business that are really being subsudised by the government via dole recipients. They are now losers but Howard claims they will be soon winners because they will be freed up to hire people at cheaper wages and conditions. The problem, their former customers have just had their dole shrunk or breached for eight weeks.

As for older workers and I include myself at 65 as one who will hire older people at any age but I can only take three or four casual "contractors" a year. I simply don't believe many employers will do likewise. If there is a pool of healthy young workers available at reduced costs, you would have to be mad to not chose them over a washed up leftie like me in his dotage.

But worse, the general feeling is that once you hit 40 the chances of finding a job are low, 50 forget it. Furthermore why would you hire two or more young cheaper workers when before you had one - you would simply hire one at cheap wages to replace the one on higher wages. Simply bringing in these changes isn't instantly going to create a great need for new workers.

This is one the great lies you will hear from small business owners - that they would hire more people if they could fire them easily. It's bogus and they are telling a lie or they hopeless in business and the sooner they go bust and move over for better businessmen/women the better. Anyone has been able to take on "contractors" for years now. I have and what these small operators tell you is a crock.

There will simply be chaos and the DHSS will not be able to cope, just as they didn't with the 'Work For The Dole', another basically useless enterprise with high hopes and trumpted as the new way get the "bludgers" working, except it was scaled back to a tenth of it's size where it's now become a quite good idea for certain handpicked people.

These new changes are bigger, more complex and look very difficult to implement. It will cost millions even trying and the results will be neglible. The faith led belief behind it is that as the disabled etc are forced to work, new jobs will appear. Even if some jobs appear, these workers will be on the lowest rung and their financial input into the economy negligable.

If the economy stays at roughly the same level is at now there will be real problems. For instance all those "rental property " owners, encouraged by generous government handouts still have mortgages to pay. The vast majority of those on benefits like in rental accomodation. The costs to the owner will be quite scary if he loses one tenant because they lost their dole, goes to all the cost of getting new ones and so on. And if next year property prices dip, rates go up there will be major hassles ahead.

But hey this is the way to run a country. Get a niggling idea you have had, maybe ever since you were a kid because you lived in not the best area, your dad was hard working and talked the bludgers around him and you steam on to create a world dad would have been proud of! All these changes brought upon us which are man's obsession just haven't been tested. They're just ideas, faiths, spells brought to us by a spinner of dreams.

And we are expected to throw away a system that has served this country proud. To paraphase the PM during the Republican debate, which he manipulated as he didn't want change: "It ain't broke why fix it?"

re: Howard's boomtime benefit cuts for disabled and single pare

There are no adequate expletives to describe the callous mean administrative/legislative thugs we call the Federal Government. Their policies will cause inordinate damage to some people. They have created a suite of legislative changes that neatly dovetail into one another causing mayhem for people on benefits and low income. The cowering back bench of the Coalition Government have been gutless and useless in allowing the Executive Government to create so much damage.

No doubt there will be stories arising about people who genuinely require Disability Pensions being hounded by Centrelink workers. It won't be the fault of Centrelink. We will no doubt also see sad stories about what happens in some families when a single parent is forced to go to work. But that's ok according to the Coalition politicians; those people do not deserve any dignity.

A dog eat dog society is being created by Mr. Howard’s new legislation.
The Australian flag should be flown at half mast until sense prevails and the abhorrent legislation is repealed.

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