MEMBER for Bendigo Steve Gibbons says the government must raise the Newstart allowance to compensate for “ludicrous” cuts to single parenting payments.
The federal government introduced tighter restrictions to payments on January 1, forcing parents off their pension and on to the Newstart allowance, once their youngest child has turned eight.
Mr Gibbons criticised the program for being a “one size fits all approach” that affected people who were already in difficult financial situations.
He said the motivation behind the changes was to get people back to work, but that it was delivered by a “brutal method”.“It needs to be challenged, and needs to be addressed,” he said. “The approach seems to have ignored peoples’ individual situations. It’s just ludicrous.”
A number of single mothers met with Mr Gibbons yesterday to voice concerns the payment changes have put them on the brink of losing their homes.
Single mother Andie Downing said the cuts meant she was no longer able to afford rent and would be forced onto the public housing waiting list. Ms Downing – who will address a rally on the steps of state Parliament next month – said a lot of parents were hurting as a result of the changes.
“It’s not just the cuts, it’s losing other benefits and health cards,” she said. “People are doing it tough.”
Lara Taylor said a lot of Bendigo families were struggling to cope with the changes, which reduced payments by about $60 to $100 per week. She said she had been “shocked” by the announcement of the cuts and was now unable to buy her son new school shoes and books.
“I am at work all week, I work hard for my children but the changes are still absolutely trashing people who can least afford it,” she said. “People have this perception that single mothers are lazy or don’t want to work.
“It’s not a situation I think any mother chooses to be in.” Mr Gibbons said he would raise the issues to the federal caucus to try and improve Newstart payments, in place of the payment scheme. “There’s a lot of unrest in caucus over the issue,” he said