Senator Jacqui Lambie wants single parents to know they’re not alone, despite what she sees as the Government’s “disgusting” treatment of them.
Last week, the Tasmanian Senator Lambie made an impassioned speech to Parliament, urging them to reconsider the Government’s savings measures that would impact on lower income and single parent families.
The Government had separated the savings measures from the Omnibus bill, a bill that packaged together a number of cuts to welfare with the changes to the childcare package. The Greens, Labour and some crossbenchers had refused to pass the Omnibus bill whilst the measures were all bundled together.
By separating some savings measures from the Omnibus Bill, the Government was able to get a smaller bill through Parliament just before midnight on Wednesday.
“I was sick of banging my head against a brick wall and thinking you are just not listening, you just don’t get it," she says about her speech. "I thought, that’s it, I’m letting my guard down, and I’m going to tell you what it’s like to go through those difficult times.”
Listen to our interview with Senator Lambie:
Lambie says that the decision by the Government to freeze the indexation on the Family Tax Benefit A for two years (i.e. payments will remain the same and not go up with inflation) will mean that families will suffer, given that fuel, electricity and food prices will go up in that time. There will also now be a one week waiting period for people claiming the Parenting Payment.
"Single parents are probably some of the most vulnerable people in society right now," she says. "They're trying to live from pay to pay, to provide for their children. They are feeling the pressures already and what the Government does is put more pressure on them. Nobody's winning and that's disappointing...
"Even for low income families, where they do have a partner, it will cause more volatility and it has a very negative flow-on effect, and its quite disgusting what the Government's trying to do."
In her speech to Parliament, Lambie outlined how hard it was for her as a single parent, at times struggling to find enough money to feed her family. She says that politicians don’t know how much difference a week can make in the life of a single parent, and that children will now pay the price of bad Government decisions.
“When you’re trying to pay rent and you’re trying to put food on the table from fortnight to fortnight… it does get very tough to fight for our children. The flow on effect goes on to our kids, and that’s not fair.”
Senator Lambie said she was sorry she couldn’t do more for single parents, and promised to continue to fight for them.
“There are a few of us up here that get it and have been in those sort of circumstances. We are doing everything we can to stop you from getting cuts, because we understand the negative effects it has on you…. I’m hoping my heartfelt speech was enough to get through to them [politicians] and make positive changes in the future.”
The final childcare package is still to be passed through Parliament.
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