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Oct 10, 2012

Pooping Gillard's Party

Gillard's eloquence on the subject of misogyny was not the most important feminist issue in federal parliament yesterday.

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It is not my ambition to be the pooper at a national feminist party. Like so many others, I took enormous pleasure in watching a misogynist squirm as the Prime Minister called him on his misogyny in the national parliament yesterday.

It’s just a pity that this was not the most important event on women’s issues to occur in parliament yesterday.

The passage of the legislation to move 100 000 single parents  (the overwhelming majority of them women although an increasing proportion are men) onto Newstart is a far more fundamental event than the display of Prime Ministerial eloquence. This measure is not about encouraging women to build a better future for themselves and their offspring. It’s about further entrenching the Howard-era marginalisation of single mothers.

Single mothers are generally tired of living in poverty by the time their youngest child turns eight, but they must negotiate a more complex range of issues than other job-seekers before they can take up full-time employment. With a consensus emerging within the ALP that welfare payments do not meet basic living requirements, what is the point of cutting the incomes of 100 000 families prior to the pending review?

Julia Gillard may be able to make Tony Abbott squirm in parliament, but women still seem to be regarded as easier to discipline than men. Politicians are far more willing to tell single mothers that they have to get into the workforce, pronto, than to tell the fathers of their children that they have to step up to the mark on child support. Gendered politics yesterday was not just about Tony Abbott’s record.

I did not entirely boycott the party yesterday. Abbott got the serve he has so richly deserved for so long, and I was riveted to every second.

But at the end of the day, I will not be lectured on sexism or misogyny by Julia Gillard on the very day that she has driven so many women deeper into poverty.

Shakira Hussein —

Shakira Hussein

Writer and academic in multiculturalism and Muslim studies

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16 comments

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16 thoughts on “Pooping Gillard’s Party

  1. Hamis Hill

    All single parents are women?
    And when the children of single male parents turn eight then these fathers must stay at home rather than earning more money at work?
    Better for them and better for their children?
    All the children under the age of eight are still protected by a sole parent pensioner at home.
    And those single parents who are not on a pension and work, how do their children under eight cope?
    Or those children, with two parents with unsustainable housing debt, who are dumped all day in a child minding centre, how do they cope?
    Look at the unsustainable housing debt that creates so many sole parents in the first place?
    All Gillard’s fault?

  2. JAck Ryan

    Gillard may not be perfect, but Abbott is a monster on women’s issues.

    Just look at his response to Gillard’s speech, claiming it was ‘her time of the month’:

    http://dailycurrant.com/2012/10/09/tony-abbot-it-time-month/

    Abominable. Just abominable.

  3. fredex

    I’m still in moderation but I’ll add to the invisible comment.
    Shakira you are to be commended for saying what needs to be said.
    Gillard scored a plus yesterday and the govt she leads scored a zero and you explain why.
    Good effort from First Dog also.

  4. Thomas Nugent

    Curiously, I was under the impression that single parents included both men and women – I don’t know where I got this impression.

    Furthermore, I thought that people who pay child support were also men and women – but if a single parent can only be a women than, following Shakira Hussein’s train of thought, only men can provide for the child.

    Seriously though, the move to prevent single parents from relying on welfare is probably structurally motivated legislation. In that, with growing numbers of single parents come a growing reliance on welfare for single parents.

    It seems to me similar to reducing the levels who relied on aged pensions as the population aged. This wasn’t motivated by a hatred of women, but a need to prevent over reliance on welfare.

  5. jennatilz mckrackin

    Welfare rights do not equal sexism. There is no direct link, they are separate issues. Clumsy stuff

  6. El Nino

    You should have waited. Politics/ Public Discourse is about timing. This isn’t it.

  7. shepherdmarilyn

    Not to mention the tabling of a motion by Bowen under her instructions to flog off refugee women and kids to Manus Island to rot regardless of the fact that PNG has no laws to assess status and will not protect them even from the PNG government.

    WE are paying for the training of Detachment 88 to torture and murder West Papuans while PNG hosts 10,000 West Papuan refugees in squalor and if WEst Papuans came here again we would send them to Manus or Nauru.

    I won’t be lectured on feminism, sexism or misogyniy by Gillard, Plibersek, Macklin, Roxon or any of the other women in the parliament who voted for these two bits of filth.

    Sexism is dead, we are all women or men, we need to get over it and grow out of a 1960’s dead debate.

  8. SusieQ

    Well said!!! Disgraceful action by a Labour government.

  9. fredex

    Very well said Shakira.

    Isn’t it sad that the alternative to the ALP’s failure in this and other issues is the even worse COALation?

    One step forward, 2 steps back.

  10. paul wirth

    My girlfriend is a single mum who works fulltime..she recieves $14 per week from her ex as he is gainfully!! unemployed.Her son has just turned 8 so she has now lost her parenting payment.She has her son 5out of 7 days a week ,cooks,cleans,washes and feeds the 2 of them and she is struggling.Conversely my housemate is the father of 2kids under the age of18,he pays $1100 per fortnight to his ex,who is with another man who is her de facto,the children rarely live at home and this woman owns a house .She also does not make the youngest boy go to school and shows little concern .Both of these cases highlight the inequities of the current family welfare system and are both factual situations…complete overhaul is required or a case by case evaluation with full disclosure may be the better way to go ..thank you

  11. Jimmy

    Let’s get something straight about this terrible pol icy of moving all these hard done by single mothers off the pension and on to newstart – it kicks in once the youngest child is 8 – that is 3 years after the youngest child has started attending primary school!
    And it isn’t necessary for them to take up full time employment – you can still receive some newstart right the way up to earning $914.34 a fortnight.

  12. Jimmy

    Let’s get something straight about this terrible policy of moving all these hard done by single mothers off the pension and on to newstart – it kicks in once the youngest child is 8 – that is 3 years after the youngest child has started attending primary school!
    And it isn’t necessary for them to take up full time employment – you can still receive some newstart right the way up to earning $914.34 a fortnight.

  13. Elbow Patches

    Another reason why the ALP is in danger of losing its soul. There has to be a better way to assist single parents to rejoin the workforce when they are able. This is a ridiculous, backward step. Feminism surely has one of its strongest sources in the economic disadvantage faced by mothers caring for children. It seems fundamental to me… Picking on single mums and through them their children, is the lowest of the low in my book.

  14. A D

    Sadly sensationalist article very light on actual factual reportage. It would have been more pertinent to analyse our PM’s speech in terms of the Nation’s view of mother’s (read: women) in general, and how this relates to the consistent ill treatment of women. You glance very quickly over the fact that this bill also affects single father’s- it is not as though PM Gillard is using sneaky opportunism to quietly shunt women into poverty- welfare is a complex system and putting parents onto Newstart payments isn’t sending them to the scrap heap as you imply. I know because I live off it on a disability. I have many criticisms of the Centrelink system but using this fearless speech as a platform to discuss Gillard somehow as driving women in to poverty is really sad- you could have used this opportunity to praise her difficult task of bringing Abbott’s, and the rest of this often repulsively sexist Nation’s shameful misogyny to the attention of the world rather than an opportunity to slander her as a hypocrite. On a day when the world is praising her for her strength of character, it is very, very sad to see our own media so quick to cut her down.

  15. Brian English

    But at the end of the day, I will not be lectured on sexism or misogyny by Julia Gillard on the very day that she has driven so many women deeper into poverty.

    She didn’t lecture you, at least, I thought it was directed at Abbot.

    Gillard, like everyone, is capable of hypocrisy. But I think she is way behind the likes of Jones and Abbot.

  16. Katherine Seppings

    Thank you Shakira. I agree entirely. Thank you for revealing what has been entirely overshadowed by Gillard’s ‘speech.’ On the day so many single parents should be listened to, she has the limelight. It is hard enough for single parents to get to a rally in Canberra, where they did protest yesterday, for their financial plight to be recognised and improved, not made worse by the government, but was this reported? Was this devastating news only heard by those it will directly impact on?

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