Welfare cut puts Gillard in hot seat
January 20, 2013
The largest number of single parents affected by the federal government's decision to reduce their welfare payments live in the Prime Minister's electorate in Melbourne's west.
Labor MPs represent six of the 10 electorates with the largest number of people receiving the payment, according to an analysis done by the Department of Human Services late last year.
Ms Gillard's electorate of Lalor is home to 4829 people, mostly women, who receive the single parent payment.
The Sydney seat of Chifley, held by Ed Husic, has the next highest number - 4548.
Other Labor seats that feature in the top 10 are Wakefield in South Australia, held by Nick Champion, Rankin in Queensland, held by the Minister for Trade, Craig Emerson, Fowler in Sydney, held by Chris Hayes, and Port Adelaide in South Australia, held by the Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler.
According to the department's figures, three of the remaining four seats in the top 10 are held by Coalition MPs. The final one is Kennedy in far north Queensland, held by Bob Katter of Katter's Australian Party.
Mr Katter said last week he thought the January 1 change that moved single parents on to the lower-paying unemployment payment was ''savage''.
''Those single mothers just won't be able to afford to feed the kids properly,'' Mr Katter said.
People affected by the changes are planning protests to coincide with the return of Parliament early next month.
The protest's organiser, Samantha Seymour, said it was ''time to come together and tell the government that these changes are simply not acceptable''.
The Greens senator Rachel Siewert will use the resumption of Parliament to introduce legislation that would increase the unemployment payment, Newstart, by $50 a week.
This would cost the government $2 billion a year, according to the Parliamentary Budget office.
Some Labor MPs have also been angry at the changes, which will save the government $728 million over the next four years.
The change represents a drop in weekly income of between $60 and $180 for the 84,000 affected people.
It also curtails the amount of work people are able to do because of the different rules governing the single parent and unemployment payments.
The government will not roll back the change although it is considering increased employment assistance and allowing people to work more before their welfare payments are reduced.
The Greens will use Senator Siewert's bill to try to keep momentum behind the push to raise the dole.Last week, Fairfax Media revealed Centrelink wrongly told 63,000 single parents to destroy their concession cards. Centrelink later admitted this was a mistake.