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Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Democrats Get It Wrong

Senator Stott Despoja should apologise to sole parents for scaremongering and misleading them about the Government’s welfare reform proposals.

Last night Senator Stott Despoja claimed parents on Parenting Payment with children under six years of age would be compelled to attend an interview about their job readiness. She also claimed that those parents with children between six and thirteen years of age would be required to be engaged in six hours work of a compulsory nature per week.

Both claims were clearly and directly made by Senator Stott Despoja. Neither of these statements is correct. They are both untrue.

She did not simply leave an impression. She directly, overtly and clearly made the claims.

The welfare reform proposals contain no requirement whatsoever for parents with children under six years of age.

When the youngest child turns six, parents will be required to attend an interview annually. They will have a Centrelink personal advisor to give them all the information they need about the opportunities in their area to maintain skills, develop new ones and get involved in the community.

Parent with children over thirteen years of age will be required to do six hours a week – of community work, training or paid work.

Senator Stott Despoja got it wrong. This was not a leader caught on the hop by a sudden unexpected question. Senator Stott Despoja nominated the changes for Parenting Payment recipients as the issue was concerned about. In other words, she effectively indicated that as Leader, she had considered the issue and was ready to comment.

Senator Stott Despoja called this part of the reform mean-spirited. What is mean-spirited is to leave sole parents alone for years and years to let their skills and confidence decline and then expect them to jump back into the economy.

Senator Stott Despoja claims to offer moral leadership. She must correct the record and apologise.