Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
Inquiry into the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Fair Incentives to Work) Bill 2012

The St Vincent de Paul Society wished to preface the importance of this legislation and its policy implications in the greater context of income inequality and poverty in Australia. The gap in income inequality in Australia is well documented, as is the fact that most welfare recipients in Australia struggle with the basic costs of living. The people targeted in this bill are single parents, 70% of whom are in the poorest 20% of the population.

The effect the removal of the parenting payments in this legislation will be to write the future impoverishment of parents, relative to the rest of the population. The legislation will effectively punish the poorest members of the Society who already struggle with the basic costs of living.

The inadequacy of the Newstart allowance, the fact that single parents are some of the most disadvantaged members of the Australian population and the effect of pushing single parents onto the Newstart Allowance will have on them financially, in the Society’s view, makes this an unacceptable measure. The hardship that will be placed on single parents far outweighs any policy objective of the measure, particularly if that measure is merely a cost-saving exercise.

If the Government declines to view this measure in terms of the hardship caused to single parents, then this short-sighted outlook in costs saving must be viewed in terms of the cost of creation of further poverty in Australia in the long-term.

The Society reccommend that the Committee make a finding that the Bill in its current form does not meet its policy objectives and that the effects of the cuts to parenting payments are unacceptable.