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Jason Bryce - Business & Finance Specialist



Meet Joe Hockey's "welfare-rich" single mums

These single parents want to know where their $66,000 in disposable income is. Joe Hockey can you help?

By Jason Bryce | 24 May 2015




Joe Hockey says that single mothers have a large welfare income of disposable wealth


Is joe hockey right? Are single mums really...

'welfare-rich' with high disposable incomes?

Single mums are angry and insulted by comments from the treasurer Joe Hockey. Some mothers say he has got his facts completely wrong and doesn't understand how to manage a family.

Not only does the Abbott government's 2015 budget state that new mothers are "double dipping," on Paid Parental Leave, the government also claims single parents are 'welfare rich'.

Joe Hockey told ABC TV that this table showing a $66,304 'disposable income' for a single mum (published in News Limited newspapers) is exactly correct and based on government budget numbers.

Table proposing a disposable income amount for a single mum
Source: News Limited

The table shows that a single parent with two children under the age of six and earning $30,000 per year from work, is eligible for government payments of $38,000.

It also shows the single parent having more 'disposable income' than a single person earning $80,000 per year.

Joe Hockey said ordinary taxpayers wanted, and deserved, to know where their money is going.

Joe Hockey says single parents are wealthy
Joe Hockey says that single parents are getting
"$60,000 or $50,000 in government payments"


"If someone is receiving sixty thousand or fifty thousand dollars in government payments, that is the equivalent contribution of one or two people working full time and every dollar of their tax going to that other person," said the treasurer.

Single mothers say a lot of the money is going to the children - and those costs are not factored into Joe's calculations.

The average cost of raising children in an Australian low income family is $320 per week or $16,640 per year according to the AMP NATSEM "The Cost of Kids" report. The AMP NATSEM research found that government assistance does not fully cover the costs of raising children. As children get older, they cost more and government assistance declines.

Strangely, child care rebates and benefits make up about half of the $38,000 that Joe Hockey says single parents are paid each year. Canberra policy expert, Greg Jericho, says child care subsidies are not disposable income and not welfare.

"Joe Hockey is bullying single mothers..."

Joe Hockey is bullying single mothers said Kim Klau from Albany in Western Australia. Kim has two children and receives the full rate of Parenting Payment Single plus $9,000 in child support per year.

Single mum Renae Mills receives only $35,000 total income
Single mum Renae Mills receives only $35,000

"I receive half of what he says single mums have as disposable income," said Kim.

"You don't know how hard it is to live off a single pension until you have to actually do it, I feel the government has begun bullying single mothers."

Single mum Renae Mills lives in Mildura in outback Victoria and has two children aged four and six years old.

Renae is a casual teacher so she sometimes works five days per week and sometimes not at all.

"For Joe Hockey to say that I have more disposable income than a single person earning $80,000 seems like a bit of a joke," said Renae, who receives $15 per fortnight in child support payments.

Renae said her total income was about $35,000 and the more she works, the less money she gets from Centrelink.

Single mum Renae Mills receives only $35,000 total income
Single mum Katrina Whittred works and studies

"The prospect of working more hours, or full time, while the kids are so young certainly doesn't excite me," said Renae

"To work full time plus cook, clean, do washing, ironing, homework, drive to extra-curricular activities, birthday parties etc. leaves little quality time with the kids, let alone adult time!"

Katrina Whittred from Perth has two children and works 24 hours per week.

Katrina receives nothing in child support and said she is comfortable on her total income of about $53,000.

"I don't agree with the words "welfare-rich," said Katrina "I pay $450 per week rent and I don't have any savings.

"If something unexpected were to happen like the fridge breaks, then I would need to source money from somewhere."

Katrina is currently studying so she can get a higher paying job and get off Centrelink benefits completely.


Jason Bryce
Business & Finance Journalist





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Jason is a business and finance journalist with 20 years experience, and is also a member of the SingleMum.com.au Expert Opinion Panel. He has a regular weekly column in the Sunday Mail (Brisbane) and writes regularly for the Business Daily section of the Herald Sun in Melbourne and many other newspapers and magazines.

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What does it mean to be a single mum?Of course, the

kids

are the most important thing in a single mum's life. Kids are the focus and always have been. But along with the children, there are other matters that can confuse a single mum's life.

Centrelink

plays a big part of a single mother's life, mainly because this is where a large percentage of single mums get their finances from. Centrelink are the source from where the

single mother pension

, or as it is otherwise known, the single parent payment comes from. The single mother pension is a subsistence amount, but just the same, it is money to live on, and so it is important, no matter if it is called single parent payment, single mother pension or whatever Centrelink welfare classes it at the time

Often, single mums come out of a

divorce

or defacto relationship only to find that their troubles have just begun, and find that their first step leads them towards Family Law - it's time to engage a lawyer.
There are more than just Centrelink finance problems to worry about, as mentioned before, but also

child custody

issues. Child custody is something that hits right at the heart of

single mums

. If a single mother's ex husband or ex partner has been a domestic violence perpetrator, the mum may be greatly worried about child custody. They worry that their kids won't be safe with their spouse, who has already proven to be abusive because they caused

domestic violence

, which resulted in a divorce or separation.

Even so,

Family Court

will often still order a form of child custody named

Shared Parenting

. Shared Parenting is a form of child custody division of time or parental responsibility between the parents. Mother's often look for a good divorce lawyer to try to avoid share parenting with an abusive ex-spouse after divorce, however in many cases Shared Parenting is still the outcome after the divorce, no matter how good the divorce lawyers have been. They will often settle for visitation at a contact centre or access centre where fathers or mothers are supervised during child custody access.

Please remember the bigger font words,because we will use it often in our website.