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Greens question Maharey crackdown on beneficiaries

Greens question Maharey crackdown on beneficiaries

Social Services Minister Steve Maharey appears to have succumbed to ACT party pressure to engage in yet another round of beneficiary bashing, Green MP Sue Bradford said today.

The Green Party Social Services spokesperson said a planned crackdown by Mr Maharey to increase penalties for solo mothers who do not name the father of their child is ill-conceived and could be dangerous for the children of violent or abusive men.

ACT's Muriel Newman recently released figures showing the number of beneficiary mothers not naming fathers had increased by 2502 from 13,996 since 1999.

"Out of the blue Mr Maharey seems to be launching another attack on beneficiaries at the behest of the ACT party with little regard for the consequences," said Ms Bradford.

"Increasing the penalties from the current $22 a week, which I believe is unacceptable in the first place, will only increase the hardship suffered by mothers and children in these circumstances.

"In many cases there is a real and valid reason why a mother is not naming the father, such as if the father is known to have abused children or is violent towards the mother and/or her child.

"Under the pressure of increased penalties, mothers would be forced to name the father with the fear this man could demand access rights."

Ms Bradford said current exemptions to the penalties, if a child was conceived as a result of rape or incest or if circumstances meant there was no way of telling who the father was, should be extended to reflect valid fears that a mother could have for herself and her child.

"Either abolish the penalties altogether or introduce this exemption so children can be protected from a violent or abusive relationship," said Ms Bradford.

"Children have the right to feel safe within the DPB, and the unfortunate reality is many children are safer in a single parent family."

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