Daily News - Monday 19 May 2014

Posted 19 May 2014 7:45am
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Why does Kevin Andrews want to give couples a helping hand?
Greg Bearup, The Australian ($)

The relationships of Australia are about to get a free tune-up, courtesy of Kevin Andrews. In July this year he will introduce a program whereby couples of all persuasions — those about to be married, the already married, the unmarried, same-sex couples, those hoping to soup up a sagging sex life — will be able to apply online for a $200 counselling voucher.

... It may be a good idea. It may even work. It just seems an odd one at this time, when the age of entitlement is supposedly over. With one hand Andrews is doling out money for counselling, his pet project; with the other he has flagged cuts to social service spending. This is the government that controversially pulled a website which informed consumers about high sugar and fat content in foods, aimed at fighting obesity. Obesity costs the government billions too, but some within its ranks argued it wasn’t the government’s place to tell people how to live their lives. I’m not sure what the difference is.

 

The science of romance – can we predict a breakup?
Lisa A Williams and Rebecca T Pinkus, The Conversation

Oscar winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin seemed to have the perfect marriage until their “conscious uncoupling” earlier this year. Was the split destined to happen?

What of other couples – is it possible to see the fate of a relationship early on from the way they first react towards each other?

Turns out psychology can tell us quite a bit about the trajectory of these celebrity relationships, as well as our own less-famous pairings.

 

Teaching parents how to parent: essential interventions or government meddling?
Nick Hopwood, The Conversation

The idea of teaching parents how to parent makes many of us uncomfortable. However, educating parents is a positive step towards a society that provides all children with the best possible start in life. It is also better for the economy in the long run.

 

Families paying the price of a new financial order
Alexandra Smith, Rachel Browne and Cosima Marriner, The Age

The budget is set to make life harder for those caught between supporting dependent children and caring for elderly parents.

... Lyn Craig, of the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW, said the budget sent a clear message to those in middle age: they will be increasingly responsible for supporting generations on either side.

''It really made explicit [the government's] expectation that families be responsible for the economic welfare of their children up until they're 30,'' she said. ''In the later stages of life it seems to assume you'll be self-sufficient longer.''

 

Parents warned budget cuts will put family day care in danger
Matt Wade and Sherrill Nixon, The Age

Parents using family day care have been warned their childcare fees will jump by up to $35 a week and some small childcare providers could be put out of business because of federal funding cuts.

The budget revealed $157 million would be saved over three years from mid-2015 by tightening eligibility for the ''Community Support Program'', which provides funding to help small family day care operators with administration and quality control. Family Day Care Australia, the sector's peak body, says this change will have a ''dramatic and direct'' affect on the operating costs of providers that will be passed on to parents. It estimates fees for a child in full-time family day care will rise by roughly $35 a week or about $1700 a year.

 

Single mums fail to find work
Natasha Bita, The Australian ($)

Barely a quarter of single mothers kicked off the parenting pension have found work 16 months later.

Despite the “tough love’’ measure by the former Gillard government, three in four of the sole parents are still on the dole.

 

Young unemployed bear the brunt of welfare reform
Rick Morton, The Australian ($)

One of the greatest philosophical conundrums in criminal law is addressed by Blackstone’s formula: “It is better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”

For years now the prevailing view of Australia’s social safety net, particularly where it deals with the spiralling crisis of youth unemployment, has been similar. It is better that 10 “bludgers” rely on the state than one genuine jobseeker be punished for misfortune.

Times are changing.

Joe Hockey drew to a close the age of entitlement and Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews made sure of it by introducing some of the harshest, sweeping welfare reforms in this week’s budget, particularly for the young unemployed.

... This week Bill Shorten called the changes “perhaps the single most heartless measure in this brutal budget”.

 

How the budget pain is unfairly shared
Peter Whiteford and Daniel Nethery, The Age

We find that people on benefits do the heaviest lifting. An unemployed 23-year-old loses $47 a week or 18 per cent of their disposable income. An unemployed lone parent with one eight-year-old child loses $54 per week or 12 per cent. Lone parents earning around two-thirds of the average wage lose between 5.6 per cent and 7 per cent of their disposable income. A single-income couple with two school-age children and average earnings loses $82 a week or 6 per cent of their disposable income.

Compare this to the $24, or less than 1 per cent of disposable income, paid through the deficit levy by an individual on three times the average wage – close to $250,000 by 2016–17. High-income couples could together bring in up to $360,000 a year and not contribute an extra cent.

 

Reshaping welfare: are we entering an age of inequality?
Tom Allard, Sydney Morning Herald

As Joe Hockey was delivering his budget speech on Tuesday night, Taylor Clarke-Pepper was settling down to dinner: two-minute noodles and a glass of cordial.

The struggling, unemployed 20-year-old ate the frugal meal on her lap, alone at home, while the Treasurer unveiled a fiscal blueprint that, if implemented, will radically reshape the social safety net, and could leave her destitute.

''I was just completely shocked,'' says Clarke-Pepper, who describes her small one-bedroom apartment in Wollongong as ''dirty, stained carpets, barely any furniture, and a half-dingo next door who scares me''.

 

Political trust deficit is the real emergency
Tim Costello, The Australian ($)

It is an important time to reclaim our citizenship: that requires openness to a brave, civilised tax conversation that does not exclude any options — even the political cyanide pill that is the GST.

When our government cannot even utter those three politically toxic letters and instead cuts $80 billion to the states’ health and education funding to get them to do the heavy lifting in this debate, we are being treated like infants.

 

Budget 2014: Is this the Australia we really want to be?
Hugh Mackay, The Age

In Australia, the top 20 per cent of households control 62 per cent of the wealth, while the bottom 20 per cent have less than 1 per cent. As in any society, economic inequality has certain inexorable social consequences for such things as rates of imprisonment, social exclusion, class envy and social anxiety. Yet, year after year, federal budgets have consistently chosen to favour the already-wealthy through such measures as tax cuts, the inherently regressive GST, and generous superannuation benefits inaccessible to the poorer members of the community.

 

Archives 1992: Kevin Andrews attacks Catholic Social Welfare Commission
Kevin Andrews, The Canberra Times (30 October 1992)

The recent salvos by various churches against the Coalition's program of reform, fanned furiously by Prime Minister Keating's sectarian babble about the Coalition bashing church people, signalled the latest episode in the phony war launched by a desperate Government, desperate to get back into power.

... particularly saddening was the attack on the Coalition GST policy by the Catholic Social Welfare Commission.

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