Julia Gillard’s unbridled support of women is not without its black marks

Terese Edwards missed Julia Gillard’s famous misogyny speech. She was at Parliament House on October 9, 2012, but she was outside, on the parliament’s lawns, protesting against changes to the single-parenting payment passed into law that day by Gillard’s Labor government.

Edwards, the chief executive of the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children, says those changes plunged tens of thousands of single mothers into poverty, and their effects are still being felt a decade later.

October 9 marks the speech’s 10th anniversary.

“I wanted to clap and cheer and be part of that empowerment, but I couldn’t,” Edwards says.

“I was an inconvenient reality because I was saying: ‘This is not OK from our first female PM’.”

The Gillard government amendments, passed quietly into law that historic afternoon, pushed more than 80,000 single parents off the parenting payment and onto the lower Newstart payment, leaving some up to $110 a week worse off.

It saved $728 million over four years, and a 2020 Parliamentary Budget Office analysis found the Howard and Gillard changes combined had saved taxpayers $5 billion.

Parents on the single parenting payment were already required to look for work, and to accept part-time employment if their youngest child was six years or over.

“It had absolutely nothing to do with assisting or requiring those parents to take up part-time employment,” he says.

“It was an appalling policy. It was a cost-saving at the expense of families and children in the deepest poverty.”

The Poverty in Australia report 2018, conducted by ACOSS and the University of NSW, charted the impact of the policy, with the data showing a “sharp rise in poverty among households with sole parents who were unemployed, from 35 per cent in 2013 to 59 per cent in 2015”.

Anthony Albanese, Bill Shorten and Jenny Macklin, who was the community services minister when the cuts were made, later disowned the policy and said it should never have been implemented.

Source: Julia Gillard’s unbridled support of women is not without its black marks

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