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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7680

Ms SHARKIE (Mayo) (10:31): I second the motion. I rise to support the member for Denison's bill and to urge the government and the opposition to strongly consider implementing the review that this bill would require. As the member for Denison outlined, in 2013 the then Gillard government changed the eligibility for the single-parent payment. As we all know, when a child now turns eight, the parent moves on to Newstart instead of the parenting payment. We all want everyone to be active in the workforce or in volunteering in any capacity that they can; however, what we saw was a cut of more than $145 a fortnight back in 2013. That difference is now $172 per fortnight. This creates a situation where a parent is really unable to care for their child as the child ages. As we all know, the older children get the more expensive they are. What the Gillard government and subsequent governments fail to understand is that the impact of those cuts is felt most deeply and overwhelmingly on our most vulnerable in our society and overwhelmingly on women. In Mayo there are almost 5,000 single parents and 80 per cent of those are women who are the primary carers.

The people who have suffered the most are the children of the single parents. Single-parent families account for 15 per cent of all families in Australia, yet recent data shows that 40 per cent of all children in poverty in Australia live in a single-parent household. I'll just give a short regional overlay on this. It is all well and good for us to expect single parents to move into the workforce, but when you live in regional Australia there are very few jobs that can accommodate moving around the school times. In my local areas, not every school has AHSC, after-hours school care. In many cases, children are walking a long way from the bus stop to try to get home and be alone in the house if their parent can, indeed, get a job. A full review means that we can avoid the mistakes of a previous government, examine all the evidence available and choose the right path. So I commend the member for Denison's bill. He is seeking a review and I think that it is a very worthy objective for this parliament to consider.

Debate adjourned.