FAIR GO: Clive Palmer argues for an increase in Newstart benefits payments to stop poverty.
FAIR GO: Clive Palmer argues for an increase in Newstart benefits payments to stop poverty. ALAN PORRITT

Palmer goes in to bat for poor solo parents

FAIRFAX MP Clive Palmer has called for more equitable support for single parents saying Newstart allowances are no substitute for sole parent payments and were never designed to be.

A Gillard government policy supported by the Coalition saw about 100,000 single parents pushed off the pension and on to general unemployment benefits when their youngest child turned eight years old.

The move was designed to save the government $700 million over four years, but it cost struggling families between $60 and $160 a week.

Speaking at the launch of the documentary, 10 Stories of Single Mothers, at Parliament House this week, Mr Palmer said Australian society could afford to give every child a "fair go".

"Poverty robs a child of a chance to live in a safe and secure home, to have enough to eat, to play sport and to stay cool in summer and warm in winter,'' he said.

"Poverty robs a child of the chance for a positive future and we as a country miss out on their potential future talents and skills.

"It will be these children who don't reach their full potential unless we act."

Mr Palmer said Australia needed a system that encouraged employment and did not disadvantage single mothers who wished to earn money by some form of work.

"Currently, if on Newstart, a family cannot work their way out of poverty," he said.

"Newstart is not for families. It never was.

"Therefore we must immediately increase the existing Newstart payment and index payments to wage movements. Australia must provide all children with a good start in life."

The launch of the documentary about 10 families affected by the Gillard government decision was organised by the National Council of Single Mothers and Their Children.

It heard Labor's shadow Minister for Families and Payments Jenny Macklin admit the Gillard government had got the policy wrong.


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