$40 a day? Could you pay rent, feed and clothe yourself and your family, run a car or use public transport, and search for work?
According to our Family Services Minister Jenny Macklin she could. She said this in an interview yesterday - and her minders have been in damage control ever since. They have claimed the question is "inaudible" and the answer "distorted" by a "revving" car. Oddly the footage on the SBS news was perfectly clear, even the Senior Cat could hear it.
Her remarks were made in response to a government measure which has cut the single parent benefit to anyone whose children are now over the age of eight. Those parents now go "on the dole" and are expected to search for work. The dole is much less than the single parent benefit.
There are all sorts of things wrong with this measure and it is going to cause many problems. At present however the government is merely interested in finding places to save money.
It was an easy target group, easier than targetting the Youth Allowance
and "work for the dole" schemes. Disability allowances are being targetted too. It is another easy target. These groups get little public sympathy and have little in the way of a public voice or voting power.
There is an assumption in all of this, the assumption that there are jobs there, that people are qualified to do them, and that they will be employed to do them.
I know many people, often with disabilities, who would like paid employment. The jobs are not always there, they are not alwys qualified to do those that are there and people will not employ them.
A great many things are going to have to change or many more people will have to try and live on $40 a day. It would be good if the Family Services Minister was one of them.