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Parental witch-hunt will worsen child poverty

9 September, 2004

Parental witch-hunt will worsen child poverty

The Green Party is accusing the Government of punishing children for the 'sins' of their fathers through legislation to increase the penalties on single mothers who don't name the father of their child.

The Social Security (Social Assistance) Amendment Bill would increase the penalty by $6 per week.

"Mothers who don't name the father are already penalised $22 per week, per child," said Green Social Services spokesperson, Sue Bradford. "It means a mum who is already struggling to bring two kids up, but who doesn't feel able to name their father, will have $50 stripped from her family budget.

"The core Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) for a mother with two children is now $256.52 per week - strip $50 from that and it leaves just $206.52 to support three people.

"Who exactly are we punishing here? The unnamed fathers will remain untouched but the kids will pay the price of the Government's moral vendetta against their parents.

"Families will be increasingly forced to fall back on food banks and go further into debt. The children suffer from lack of decent food, housing and increased insecurity, with all the long-term educational and psychological impacts that brings.

"It is obscene to index gradations of deprivation to punish mothers and children for the sins of the fathers."

Sue Bradford also questioned the legislation's underlying premise that it is morally better to be dependent on a completely absent and uncaring father than on the State.

"Bringing up children on your own is a real and very important job," said Ms Bradford. "It is a very hard job, made harder if you're on your own and in poverty."

"We do support moves to encourage the naming of the father, but rather than penalising mothers and children we want more support for those already-vulnerable members of society and support widening the existing exemption regime to allow mothers made pregnant through violence and abuse are not further victimised."

"I believe Labour is succumbing once again to pressure from ACT and National as they did with the 'no go zones' in the Jobs Jolt," said Ms Bradford. "It's a competition for the votes of those who seek to demonise beneficiaries, and cast them as somehow morally inferior from the rest of society."


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