The Alliance asks whether the National Government wants seven year old school children coming home to a locked, empty house.
That’s what will happen if solo parents are forced into inappropriate jobs, as part of National’s latest punishment plan for struggling families announced today.
Alliance Party spokesperson Victor Billot says the bizarre thing about John Key’s and Paula Bennett’s comments about people seeing welfare as “a way of life” was that there were currently around 170 000 people unable to find work.
He says obviously they had not visited any of the long queues of people lining up to find work in New Zealand today and were insulated by their wealth from the problems of most people.
“When New Zealand was committed to full employment in past times, there was no welfare problem. There were jobs and people went to work. We don’t have a welfare problem in New Zealand – we have an unemployment crisis which this Government has no interest in solving.”
Mr Billot says National is quite happy with unemployment because it kept the working class scared.
“There is a worldwide recession caused by unregulated capitalism, so obviously National blame the victims of the resulting unemployment. Divide and conquer is the name of the game.”
He says that in many cases, there is great benefit for schoolchildren having a parent at home.
“Parenting may not be paid work, but it is the most important job most people will do.”
Mr Billot says what happens when a child falls sick at school when a solo parent is stuck in a job miles from home, relying on public transport, with an unsympathetic employer?
“Will National have solo parents working shiftwork? Casual jobs with irregular hours? Will solo parents of schoolchildren be expected to work night shift? Who sets the rules of the game?”
He says that because some solo parents work in paid jobs, making the assumption that it is the best for all families in this situation is a stupid and harmful generalization.
A high income solo parent with support from friends and family may be able to pay for child care assistance and get home help, whereas a low income solo parent who is isolated and alone may be put in an extremely difficult position.
Some children may be troubled, unwell or have special needs, and they would be disadvantaged by National’s plan to punish their parents.
“There is an obsession with this Government in downgrading the role of parents in providing a secure family home for their children. They want to gain cheap political traction by punishing solo parents, but those who pay will be the children.”
Mr Billot says the solution lies in looking at what is in the best interests of children and ensuring all those who want to have access to paid work, and those who feel their role is caring for their children left to get on with the job.