Those of us with jobs, a settled family life, and those with chauffeur-driven government cars and a multitude of staff to help them with their important duties and responsibilities do not know what it must be like to live on $35 a day.
Families Minister Jenny Macklin says she can, but she won’t, because she does not have to.
But for those single parents dependent on welfare who are attempting to provide a reasonable home life for their children, the latest blow to their meagre incomes issued by the federal government from January 1, is downright cruel.
There is an irony here as you would expect the Families Minister to be doing everything she can to help families. Instead, the cost-saving measures of the Gillard government will contribute to greater hardship for the down-trodden families our welfare system is designed to protect.
In most cases, single parents are not on welfare because they want to be. Usually, it is the circumstances they find themselves in, and in many cases, it is already surrounded by hardship.
People in this situation are often victims. A wife, husband or partner has departed, it is to escape domestic violence, or they find they have no means of support.
There are some who elect to live off welfare, young unmarried mothers are those who attract plenty of attention in this category.
But one size does not fit all. While the government wants welfare recipients to work, it is often not that easy.
Firstly, raising children with one parent is much harder than with two – and parents in this situation put their children’s welfare first. They try to provide the best home life they can and try to be the best parent they can be for their children. Others are studying for additional qualifications so they can achieve a job which pays well and has the potential to provide a better life.
Calls for Jenny Macklin to live on the $35-a-day Newstart allowance single parents are now receiving serves no purpose.
The allowance is simply not enough and it does not take into account the special set of circumstances these people find themselves in.
Jenny Macklin knows that and, apart from apologising for her claim she could live on $35 a day, she should be showing some courage and leadership by acknowledging the government’s error and fixing the problem she has created.
With many families now facing significant hardship, she has simply created another problem and inflicted more pain on many families which are already suffering.