Lindsay Mitchell writes in the NZ Herald:
Metiria Turei describes this as “forcing” mothers into work but that claim doesn’t stand up under scrutiny. Nobody is forced to have a baby on a benefit – a benefit provided, incidentally, because she is already unable to independently support her children. Never before have women been better able to control their fertility. If she chooses to get pregnant and have the baby she will be doing so fully aware that if a part-time job is available when that baby turns one, she will be expected to accept it (along with the childcare assistance needed to do so.) The choice is ultimately hers.
This is a key point. The vast majority of those who have further children on welfare, choose to do so. Despite being unable to even support their current children, they choose to have further children.
Mitchell points out the Key Govt response is different to the US response:
Some American states attempted to deal with the same problem by introducing ‘family caps’ which limited cash assistance to a fixed number of children and no more. The results were mixed and such a move here would be met with objections about depriving additional children, especially from the Child Poverty Action Group.
So the government went with the one year exemption option.
If the parent moves into work, due to work testing, that will actually increase the family income.
Freedom of choice is what the reforms are essentially about re-balancing. True freedom of choice can’t encroach on someone else’s. Most voters are behind the reforms because they feel unfairly treated when one group is allowed to make a choice that they are denied. Why is it fair for single parents to be supported to stay at home indefinitely when most partnered parents go back to work quite quickly? It becomes especially gruelling for working mothers to then hear that putting their young children into daycare is a form of “child abuse”, an argument advanced by the opposition to reject the reforms.
Absolutely. Also most parents choose to limit their families to a size that they can afford. This was not a choice available 100 years ago, but is a choice today.
Children who spend many years on the DPB generally have much poorer outcomes. This is well-documented. To knowingly exacerbate this situation by adding more children to a workless household can’t be defended at any level. In the interests of children the government is entirely justified in trying to break this habit.
Well said Lindsay.Tags: Lindsay Mitchell, welfare reform