Thursday, May 12, 2005

so much for us

It's hard not to feel demonised by the Budget. So "welfare reform" is gonna save our economy? Geez, we're only talking about something like 80,000 sole parents (and similarly low numbers of disabled pensioners). Of whom, so I've read, about three quarters return to paid work voluntarily by the time their child turns five anyway.
But no, the Prime Minister and Treasurer act as if we're all lazygoodfornothings who need to be blackmailed into finding work, and are triumphantly marketing this whole thing as if we're supposed to believe our paltry contribution to the labour market is going to make one iota of difference to the strength of the economy.
But what can you say.
Well, just this, I guess. First, even with new childcare places being delivered in the Budget, there needs to be some assurance that sole parents will actually be able to access them under very competitive conditions. Second, are employers going to create enough part-time jobs for us to fulfil our "mutual obligation"? I'm not sure I believe it. My last employer, a big corporate law company which could certainly afford to be flexible, had a policy of only offering staff their full-time jobs back after maternity leave, meaning it was rare for new parents to be able to return to work there. If even the huge corporate employers don't see the value in offering new parents part-time jobs in order to keep them employed, then I think all we sole parents can hope for is to score 15 hours a week as a lowly paid casual at the local chip shop. Which may or may not cover the costs of childcare while we're working. Talk about a vicious circle.