MSD Minister Carmel Sepuloni, and Green Party MP Jan Logie are promulgating misinformation about sanctioning mothers who won’t name the fathers of their children.
The sanction, which takes around $28 from beneficiary mothers who do not provide the name of the father, is neither cruel nor excessive. If the mother fears risk of violence from a named father, Work and Income already provides an exemption. The Work and Income manual clearly states:
‘Your benefit payments may be reduced if you don’t legally identify the other parent or apply for Child Support. In some situations you may not need to do this, for example if you or your child would be at risk of violence. Work and Income can tell you more about this.’
Minister Sepuloni has been advised by MSD:
‘Repealing Section 70a could provide an incentive for clients not to apply for Child Support and establish private arrangements with the other parent. This is because clients would retain their full benefit rate and receive the child support paid privately.’
The previous Labour government acknowledged this practice and labelled it a ‘rort’. Former MSD Minister Steve Maharey said in 2004,
‘It is a rort, and I have said time and time again in this Parliament that fathers must front up to their obligations, and we will make sure they do, as much as we can…It is not unreasonable to expect that single parents bringing up children on their own identify who in law is the other parent, or to expect that they seek financial support for the child from the other parent. It is not unreasonable to penalise financially those who do not.’
The current government has shifted a long way from their predecessor’s position with no good reason.
Whatever fathers do not pay for their children, someone else will have to.
Carmel Sepuloni needs to explain why this is fair.