Welfare shake-up urgently needed

Attorney General Yvette D'Ath seems to be ignoring anything to do with a 4570 postcode.
Attorney General Yvette D'Ath seems to be ignoring anything to do with a 4570 postcode. Kevin Farmer

I'M NOT a commentator but...

The Commonwealth Government is proposing to crack down on welfare recipients claiming payments as Singles, when they are actually in co-habiting relationships.

I'm glad this story has emerged post-Budget because, quite frankly, I was finding nothing from Bill Shorten's Budget Reply rant to critique.

There was nothing of value to say about it.

It sounded more like an election campaign speech than a document with any fiscal plan of any significance.

Bill does realise the election was last year, doesn't he?

Anyway, the practice by which some unscrupulous individuals are claiming a higher benefit by stating they are single (when they're not) has been going on for years.

Despite previous governments taking action every now and again, they seemingly haven't put much of a dent in it.

Goodness knows how much the taxpayer has been ripped off by these individuals, let alone the stigma that naturally flows through to those legitimately claiming these benefits.

It is important this doesn't become an over-zealous witch hunt or serve as a means by which anonymous vindictive individuals can falsely report others.

On the other hand, the government should have been quicker to dispel the scare campaign that arose.

Opposition suggestions that authorities would be walking into people's bedrooms and looking in their cupboards were ridiculous.

Those opposing this crackdown aren't sincerely representing those who are legitimately receiving welfare.

But a word of caution should be noted, should the government proceed with this plan.

It is acceptable to target couples who are claiming a higher benefit than that to which they are entitled because they have lied about their relationship status.

However, what if there are also children in these households?

By all means, drag the adults over the proverbial coals but any penalty should not come back on the children.

If the adults in the house have been falsely claiming benefits, then perhaps the government needs to consider quarantining part of the legitimate benefit so the children's welfare is not compromised.

Speaking as a child of a single mother, it's pretty safe to state that over the decades, the biological fathers in these situations have rarely pulled their weight when it comes to the financial burden of raising their children; either leaving it to the mother, a de facto or the government.

And from that viewpoint, the Commonwealth Government should be examining a further tightening of the child support system, as administered by the Child Support Agency.

Why should the taxpayer continue to act as a de facto financial parent in place of men who decide their own kids aren't their responsibility?

The right of men to deny paternity continues to exist in state law.

As I found out in my own situation, this is still the case in Queensland, at least.

As the current legal system stands, a woman abandoned by the father of her child has little avenue to redress.

A man can still veto his name appearing on his child's birth registration and the courts are not able to order said male to undergo DNA testing.

That's if the mother possesses the financial resources to even take the matter to court.

So the question remains; how much is the taxpayer being slugged in welfare payments because some states are unwilling to change antiquated birth registration laws which still give such a massive advantage to errant fathers?

There needs to be co-operation between Canberra and the states in order to correct this.

The states need to remove the male veto from their respective statutes and then the Commonwealth can reduce its welfare overspend by ensuring that errant fathers meet their responsibility towards raising their own children.

But in terms of getting Queensland's co-operation - good luck with that.

For I share the Member for Gympie's frustrations in dealing with the Queensland Attorney-General. It's been seven weeks since I wrote to Ms D'Ath concerning this issue in general and my own personal case in particular. I'm still waiting for even an acknowledgement to having received my letter. It's now becoming apparent to me that when it comes to dealing with the current Attorney-General, she ignores anything that carries the 4570 postcode.

Topics:  colin claridge opinion yvette d'ath

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