Nothing is more unsavoury than the well-off pontificating about the morals of the poor. The taxpayers union are a case in point.
When poor families bend the rules they do so in order to survive. When the smug middle class do it, then it is just outright greed not necessity. This can be in the form of clever tax manipulation like ‘employing’ spouses so as to pay less tax, claiming private benefits as business expenses and using trust funds to hide income. Or daily fudging, nod nod, wink wink stuff such as paying a lower cash rate to tradies to avoid GST, lying about the ages of their children to get cheaper rates for holidays and shows, transport, meals and so on.
The Greens speak the truth when they say the welfare state is broken and must be fixed. In Britain in the 19th century people were deported for stealing a loaf of bread- we have our own versions of cruelty.
The poor are ground down by a welfare state more befitting the 19th and 20th centuries than today. But there is at last a bright spot. There were two breathtakingly bold policies buried in the depths of the Green’s paper Mending the Safety Net that have scarcely been discussed:
The first far-sighted and visionary policy tackles the assumption of female dependency. The policy allows sole parents to keep their sole parent support when they attempt to repartner. She is the one to say, not WINZ, when she is in a partnership in the nature of marriage. This policy is a sensible first step towards treating people as individuals. It does not assume that a new boyfriend will automatically take on the financial support of her and her children when they claim she is in a relationship. It removes the fear of prosecution and gives a new relationship a chance to grow into something that will actually help her and her children.
It was great to have Metiria Turei refer to Kathryn’s story
That is a appalling story of a mother had up for relationship fraud when she was grieving for a son murdered by an ex partner. Even though she had a 4 year old she was imprisoned and even though she was imprisoned MSD have hounded her for repayment of her so called debt for the past 17 years.
The Greens have opened up this issue for debate. The benefit system also needs to be put on an individual basis by aligning the different rates for single and married. All of this accords with the principles of simplicity and neutrality to marital status more fitting to the 21st century.
The second visionary policy is making the In Work Tax Credit available to all low income families. Wow. Wow. Just WOW. This is the bit that is missing from Labour’s Families Package.
The Greens know that you simply cant cure child poverty by relying on increasing the Family Tax Credit (FTC) alone. Of course that has to be done too to restore the lost value for working low income families. But increasing the FTC by enough to address child poverty would be prohibitively expensive.
The Greens know that the In-Work Tax Credit doesn’t work as a work incentive and simply punishes families when they fall on hard times. It is grossly unfair to parents who have to meet rigid numbers of hours of work when the labour market is so uncertain.
Effectively the Greens join up the IWTC with the rest of WFF and by doing so, simplify a complex system, remove discrimination and significantly reduce child poverty in a very cost effective way. Full marks!