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THE CHERRY ON THE “MUMMY” AGENDA

I would like to think that our Prime Minister invited me back to her digs for a cheeky, pre-Christmas Australian Sparkling (or 4) because I was so enchanting, captivating and wonderful company the last time we met.

Turns out I was wrong. There was an agenda…. OF COURSE THERE WAS AN AGENDA! or gender… or something.

Sydney Morning Herald. January 4 2013

 

I was going to be LAVISHED!

I love that word. Say it out loud, slowly and with a French accent, if you can.

Now, I am a believer that when you are invited to someone’s house, a hostess gift is in order.  I was standing in the playground towards the end of the term last year, gossiping, when the strangest sentence sprung from my mouth and into the ears of my mates as we chatted:  “So I am going to Kirribilli House this afternoon to roll a few wines with Julia and I cannot for the life of me, think of what to take as a hostess gift!”

Suggestions were forthcoming which were not very helpful or pleasant, as I live in Liberal-Land where Joe Hockey dresses up as Santa each year and visits the kids outside the local fish and chip establishment. Joseph Benedict Hockey is like a saint round these parts and plays a very decent Santa, I am told. Even I have been drawn under his spell, after a little email banter years back.

But I digress.

My lovely friend Mrs Molloy owns a company called Snowgoose and they do wonderful fruit hampers. She suggested a box of cherries might be a festive touch, and I could NOT have agreed with her more.

Do you know what it is like to elegantly arrive at a fancy house lugging a huge box of cherries?

Neither do I my friends, neither do I. There was a slippery incident on the gravel driveway that I will not go into here.

Standing with Julia eating cherries in her living room, we discussed all manner of topics, from the serious to the ridiculous. I managed to smack back quite a few flutes during this time.

(And because I KNOW you are going to ask, no, she cannot tie a cherry stalk into a knot with her tongue. Neither can I, despite giving it a red hot go…)

On the way home, the phone started ringing. It was no less than eight journalists wanting to know what went down that afternoon. So-called Mummy Bloggers having discussions with the Prime Minister was SO HOT RIGHT NOW (or was, back then).

Why is it so intriguing? I will never know.

BUT…

I do know that we are on the cusp of the next great gender debate and women, now more than ever, have a voice and are not afraid to use it.

The amount of crap that gets dished up is diabolical. Over the past 12 months women have copped such shit as the median gap in starting salaries for male and female graduates increased from $2000 in 2011 to $5000 last year to women destroying the joint in general and who can forget our most noble SportsWoman of the Year?

I sat on the couch on Christmas Eve and listened as a relative told me that he thought it would be a very, very long time before Australia would risk voting in another female Prime Minister.

Yes. I had to leave the room lest I drown in the steam springing forth from thine ears.

But pushing gender aside for a moment and getting back to festive fruit…

Yes, I bought the Prime Minister cherries and, yes, I was lavished with wine and canapes, but if you’re asking me what me and my new BFF get out of this festive exchange of niceties?

The answer is NOTHING.

I completely reserve the right to be a thorn in the PM’s backside. And she (because she’s been in politics for… ever) knows that. You don’t wrangle a minority government with a few smoked salmon blinis on a silver tray and some delightful banter.

 2013 is election year. It’s not going to be all sparkling bubbles and cherries.

Let’s start with the fact, that as of five days ago, single parents have lost between $140 – $200 a week once their youngest child turns eight. That is 84,000 families affected.

Right now. Today.

Jenny Macklin, $35 a day will not pay for your blow-dry.

I will watch with interest the untangling of political spin over the next few months. Because for me, putting people’s basic needs over continual courting and masturbatory fawning of big business, would be the cherry on the top of my sundae.

 

 

MORE STORIES BY MRS WOOG

Dead Pets & Vets

Mrs Woog is not Martha Stewart

Warrior Woog tames the Inner Beast.

 

 

*About Mrs Woog: “I can be found in the laundry, folding laundry, sorting laundry and dropping off the dry cleaning. I am mum to two boys, boss of my husband and master of a cat and two guinea pigs. Come nightfall, I watch TV while tweeting which drives Mr Woog insane. I like to read cookbooks and eat out. During my waking hours I ferry kids around in the Mazda while drinking takeaway coffees and listening to talkback. I think about going to the gym every day. I used to work in the publishing industry before I realised it was nothing like Elaine Benes from Seinfeld made out like it was. Now I write this blog. And I never get writer’s block. It is a gift I have.” You can follow me on Twitter: @Woogsworld.

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37 Comments

  • Reply January 5, 2013

    Janet G

    Woo Hoo Mrs Woog!

  • Reply January 5, 2013

    AitchJay

    I thought the first page was Judith Lucy!
    I’m a single parent, and I used centrelink when I needed it.
    I studied at TAFE one day a week, while my son was in childcare, so that I could work when he started school.
    I planned ahead for him reaching five, I’m meant to be upset about parents having to do this at eight? No.

  • Reply January 5, 2013

    BH

    AitchJay do you realise how HARD it is to find a job that is between 9am and 3pm, Monday to Friday with school holidays off and who are ok with the employee taking time off when their child is sick or has pupil-free days at school? It is BLOODY DIFFICULT. Especially if you live in a rural area. And if you have no family support. And if you rely on public transport that lessens the time you can work as you have to drop your child at school and then get to wherever your job. People seem to find this difficult to understand…

    • Reply January 5, 2013

      AitchJay

      Yes BH, I know it’s hard, I know it’s shitty. I have been through it, and I have friends going through it.
      My point was, I planned ahead, I knew it was coming.
      Telling parents that they have to do this at eight instead of sixteen seems like such a small thing, I was prepared.
      That makes me sound smug, but I don’t mean to do that, I’m just saying bringing forward the age where we get downgraded makes it sooner, that’s the only difference.

  • Reply January 5, 2013

    sally

    Yes, BH, you’re right: it’s all just too hard.
    I was quite sympathetic to single parents, til i remembered i completed my degree while pregnant with my 3rd child, becoming a single mum when he was 6 months, went on to get my Dip Ed and became a relief teacher so that i could have theflexibility to be there for my kids. I also worked part-time as a bar/waitress, cared for other peoples’ kids, and even cleaning, and every Census worked as a Collector and then Supervisor. Then i did a Diploma of Remedial Massage and worked for myself, and the last job i had was as a Community Support Worker for the Aged – one of our workers did the job on a bicycle.
    Yes, it’s BLOODY DIFFICULT, but i’m sure you can come up with something and it will be good for you and your child.

    • Reply January 6, 2013

      Rosie

      sally – Good for you but you must have had a lot of help, financial (from the kids’ Dad) and physical – otherwise you could not have worked bar work or done even part-time Uni (with attendances at Uni). You must have had a car? Until you have lived in a country town with its limited work opportunities and lack of transport please don’t generalise. Everyone’s situation is different. Single Mums often cannot afford to move to a bigger place, cannot afford a car and often get as little as $8 a week support from the Father. You have, indeed, been very fortunate but please don’t generalise

      • Reply January 6, 2013

        Rosie

        sally – May I also add that with a Dip.Ed. and therefore a teacher, that you might have more compassion for the parents of some of the kids you teach or taught who are single parents? Some single parents are emotionally distraught for a considerable period after a separation and also some single parents will never have the ability to study as you have done. Do you not recognise that the Government’s decision will plunge more children into abject poverty – never to recover. Good for you for what you have achieved – but do not generalise – have compassion and recognise that every situation is different. Most of these Mums want to work but, particularly in country areas, it is almost impossible.

  • Reply January 5, 2013

    Bella

    Actually, the word ‘lavishing’ is not so noteworthy – what about the term ‘mummy bloggers’ – patronising and condescending enough for everyone?

    • Reply January 6, 2013

      Rosie

      Bella – So right!

  • Reply January 6, 2013

    carole/m

    Yes, I’ve been through it too & know how hard it is.

    What I’d like to see added to this conversation is Compulsory Child Support Payments.

    How hard is it to collect these payments???
    I know in my day it was virtually impossible.

    If the government wishes to clamp down on Single Parents It’s about time there was a penalty for not paying Child Support. It should be compulsory and enforceable. Non payment of a parking fine will see your licence cancelled & your car become unregistered .

    Are there figures available on non payment of Child Support????

    I would like to see pressure put on the Government to take action on Child Support , both parents should be required to take financial responsibility for their children until they have finished their education .

  • Reply January 6, 2013

    Rhoda

    Perhaps if the child support payments were paid by the government in lieu and the Dad’s reimbursed the amount via taxes or some other agency.

    And Sally, there is also the case of single mothers not being able to move away from areas where there are limited opportunities to work/study because the father wants convenient access to his children or perhaps has custody.

    Everyone’s circumstances are different. When you consider the money that governments waste on different projects it just highlights the fact that single mothers are an easy target.

    Let’s face it everyone has a down on single mothers. They are near the bottom of the heap and are a convenient group to stick a boot into – all tarred with the one brush.

    But we’re so used to looking down on them we forget to look up to where the real money is going.

    Time we stopped demonizing the single mother and helped her get back on her feet. Isn’t that what being a civil society is all about.

    • Reply January 6, 2013

      Toushka Lee

      great comment Rhoda! sane and balanced and fair and correct. very rare.

    • Reply January 6, 2013

      Rosie

      Rhoda – excellent comment – a compassionate comment.

  • Reply January 6, 2013

    Mrs Woog

    I like you very much Rhoda. My best friend’s husband recently left her and their kids and she is doing a fan-bloody-tastic job holding it all together. x

  • Reply January 6, 2013

    susan

    I am very interested in this debate,however find it difficult to form opinions without reliable facts.Is the reduction $140 to $200 per week or $60 p.w.(as stated in today’s Age)?

    How much is the newstart allowance for a parent and two children for e.g. compared to the Newstart ?Is the govt. providing any extra assistance for training?

    I presume no single parent is expected to live on $35 per day?

    It seems the need for an increase in the Newstart Allowance is being confusingly tangled with whether single parents should be expected to work or attend training.

    Also I believe some single parents have been put on newstart when their youngest child turns eight for some years?How did this happen and was it fair?

  • Reply January 6, 2013

    sally

    Just to keep the record straight, i had a worse situation than simple separation…i had a violent ex who went on to make the next 20+ years as difficult as possible and whose best financial contribution was one year of averaging $50 per week. It would have been easier if he’d just disappeared. The kids and i are still dealing with the repercussions and probably will for the rest of our lives. BUT, i do understand that i had many benefits – thank God my Dad always insisted that i would finish school and get a profession in case i found myself in the situation of his own Mum, who had two husbands die and took in laundry to support him and his sister. And thank God for Whitlam, who made uni free so i got my degree, and again, for government assistance. There are plenty of people who are not as lucky as i have been, and everyone has different abilities, and some won’t make it and their kids will suffer from that. I care a great deal, perhaps because of what i know, but no-one should just say ‘it’s too hard…gimme’ and everyone should be encouraged and even prodded to do the best they can. Often we don’t know what we are capable of until we are forced to find out. And to those who are younger, that is your greatest asset – the energy of youth…DON’T waste it.

  • Reply January 6, 2013

    gogirl

    @susan – if you scroll down on the page linked below, it appears to set out a comparison.

    http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/centrelink/parenting-payment/changes-to-parenting-payment

  • Reply January 6, 2013

    Rhoda

    I have a few questions too.

    Will the single parent be worse off than a childless couple? Aren’t they already living under the poverty line?

    Jenny Macklin says she wants to see single parents back at work. Fair enough. But has she considered that they are already at work raising their children. After all isn’t that what we discuss here sometimes – the choice women have to make – whether to stay home and raise their own children or work and let a daycare centre raise them.

    Has Jenny Macklin had any discussions with single parents in her own electorate about their situation or don’t their opinions count?

    Has the fallout from this new plan for the single parent been properly considered. For instance will these measures increase their risk of homelessness. Has the real cost of rent been taken into account and not some ‘average figure’ that means nothing to anyone except a mathematician.

    Is it a fair measure and if not how was the fairness measured against allowances, rebates, concessions to all other members of our society. Consider farmers – they get a fuel subsidy. What is the annual cost of this allowance to taxpayers. Consider politicians – they get a living away from home allowance and many other perks. What does this add up to?

    Time to get off the backs of low income earners and give them a helping hand up the ladder. How can our society make progress and get ahead in the world when so many are forced to sink or swim?

    I would love it if we could start a new year with new motivation to be all we can be and to wish each other well.

    Onya Mrs Woog!!

    • Reply January 7, 2013

      Rosie

      Excellent comment Rhoda. And lets not forget that people accepting the Private Health Care Subsidy are actually accepting a Government “handout” – although they may not see it as such. One of the wealthiest countries in the world – but we find it hard to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

  • Reply January 7, 2013

    Anne

    One thing I have not seen mentioned in any of the debates about this is: are there actually enough jobs into which to place these single parents? We see national unemployment figures quoted by government sources – and of course these figures will vary state-to-state and regionally, with some areas having much higher unemployment than others, with the few available jobs already being contested by school leavers, uni graduates and redundancy victims. Has there actually been any independent research done that shows there are enough jobs to go around??? If not, it certainly seems like victimisation to me. And if the amount of ‘help’ given to single parents to find work is equivalent to the ‘help’ given to other unemployed people, well, the whole thing is laughable!

  • Reply January 7, 2013

    ro.watson

    Just wondering the proper way to spit a cherry pip?

  • Reply January 8, 2013

    TOO BUSY BEING FABULOUS

    [...] The Cherry on the “Mummy” Agenda [...]

  • Reply January 8, 2013

    Nat

    As well as agreeing with so many of the above posts, one thing that is over looked is the reduction in the amount a person can earn before losing 40 cents in the dollar. I never understood why they are punishing someone for trying to work more? Under employment is a major issue.

  • Reply January 8, 2013

    ally

    @Rhoda – Jenny Macklin electorate has wide and diverse population. There are some extremely wealthy people and also some of our most needy. She has held her seat for many, many years and is very well liked and respected. I personally was in her electorate and had an issue which I saw her about – she was very compassionate and helpful. I also did some volunteer work for her and she is extremely respectful and compassionate to all members of her electorate whether they are the wealthy or the needy.

    Jenny made one small comment which has more context around it. Of course she wouldn’ maintain her current lifestyle on the dole money but she has lot of good examples of how it can be done in her electorate to make her statement. Of course no one wants to be the ‘poorest’ but sometimes as a society we need to think about what are necessary items and want are extras. If people live a more simple life it can be done quite cheaply.

  • Reply January 8, 2013

    Rhoda

    Ally, I know you didn’t mean to but your statement “if people live a more simple life it can be done quite cheaply” is the typical patronizing remark that is thrown at low income earners all the time.

    If Jenny Macklin has examples of how low income earners can exist on an ever lower income then I suggest she gets it all printed and posted out to all of us so we can take it on board. I’m sure single parents will be grateful for her advice.

    Does she not realize that those at the bottom of the ladder already live a very simple life. No jet-setting, no trading up the car every 2 years, no wining and dining, no shopping at David Jones or upmarket boutiques.

    Are pensioners allowed to go to the bingo once a week or enjoy a beer once a week with mates at the pub? Is that simple enough? Or should they stay home and rot away their brains in front of a tv.

    We’d have a more productive economy in no time if this attitude was reversed and low income earners were given a leg up. Think about it.

  • Reply January 8, 2013

    ro.watson

    On the subject of rotting our brains (or not) watching t.v~ cheap entertainment~in April analogue t.v will be switched off…

  • Reply January 8, 2013

    ro.watson

    Has no-one on the Hoopla information on the proper way to spit a cherry pip-or several cherry pips, at an outing with a V.I.P like our prime minister? My version would be soaking the cherry in my mouth, gathering her flesh in my mouth, collecting the pip with a bit of skillful tongue action, retrieving pip by hand to pop into an ashtray or some other such container, and then enjoying the fruit of my work. Probably the same way I would eat olive flesh and dispose of olive pips.

  • Reply January 9, 2013

    ally

    My comment comes from observations after teaching unemployed people for the last five years, volunteering in food banks, and personally knowing famimly and friends on welfare. I also lead a very ‘simple’ life on a very small income (as I teach in the community sector!) With all the added extras a health care card etc entitles you to most of my students appear better off than me – with their Iphones etc. I can’t access a health care card as my partner and I work despite them being low paying jobs. I don’t believe my comments are patronizing at all as I personally witness good quality happy lives being lead in a simple manner compared to the ridiculous manner most people lead their lives. One thing to understand about me is how much I object to material pocessions and how people rate themselves against how many material pocessions they have and how sad it makes them. The simple life is the life for me and I wish more people would do it and be happy too.

  • Reply January 9, 2013

    Rhoda

    Ally, your mention of iphones and the health care card made me wonder if you begrudge them this. Ironic but my mother’s cleaning lady (Home Care) has one and uses it as a camera, refidex as well as phone – doesn’t have a landline. Doesn’t have a car either and she rents. I guess she saved up for it by buying a second hand fridge instead of a new one or something – didn’t ask – none of my business – but I know she’s a low income earner without dependents or a husband.

    You see this is my point exactly. The middle class and rich are on welfare also but it is hidden in the form of tax concessions and rebates . Very convenient for them. How much might Jenny Macklin ask them to cut back and simplify their life? I’m betting they could forgo a considerable percentage without it risking either their home or their well-being.

    And a little more generosity on their part might allow the government to extend the health care card to other low income earners like yourself. Better than robbing the poor of a beer with their mates or a day at the bingo don’t you think?

    • Reply January 13, 2013

      cate

      This move has punished the working single parent more than it has the non-working one. And personally if you don’t think that anybody who has a baby to get benefits won’t have another one, then thinking is not your strong point

      Re middle/upper class welfare. The move to push single parents onto Newstart is saving the governement $727m over four years. Over the same four year period they are pouring $19.9b (yes a “b” for billion) on “investment over the next four years to help Australian families with the costs of child care”. Childcare rebate in Australia NOT INCOME TESTED paid at the rate of $7,500 per child per year.

  • Reply January 9, 2013

    ro.watson

    Um,er without checking~ isn’t the tax free threshold changing or has changed~ so people on lower incomes pay less and/or no tax~ and get that handy cheque in the mail from the tax dept~once a tax return is lodged? The significance of a lump sum cheque in the mail means there is some way to accumulate an emergency fund and/or increase one’s discretionary spend. Over a year, such an amount is not much, but relieves some anxiety about money~for a while~which is a good thing.

    Meanwhile~I really want to know the proper way to spit a cherry pip. Is it being supplied with a serviette so one can spit one’s pip into said serviette or is it a napkin these days?

  • Reply January 10, 2013

    Sarah B

    Ro – if you’re posh you use a napkin, if you’re aspirational you use a serviette, if you’re stylish, like my French sister in law, you have the perfect bowl for the pips and magically transport them from mouth to bowl without anyone noticing :)
    If you’re like my teenagers you just leave little piles of pips around the house. Hopefully Mrs W didn’t do that!

  • Reply January 10, 2013

    Anne

    I once actually worked out the cost of living for a normal person with kids – ie, living a very basic lifestyle with no frills or extravagances, but in addition to rent, electricity, gas, phone, water, food etc, also costing all the things we often forget about – like haircuts for the family, school excursions, prescriptions etc. And without costing in things like car insurance, home and contents insurance, health insurance, life insurance etc – which of course are optional, but which we are advised to do – especially in cases such as the recent bushfires. Turned out to be way, way above the minimum wage – and of course ridiculously above the Newstart allowance. Apart from that, I will again bring up my previous comment re the whole employment thing. Are there actually enough jobs to go around? Everyone seems to be ignoring this point, and yet it is at the heart of the whole debate. Interested to hear any comments.

  • Reply January 10, 2013

    Anne

    Not to forget clothes and shoes! And any emergencies… :)

  • Reply January 10, 2013

    Anne

    Oh, and what about petrol – if you’re lucky enough to own a car, that is – and of course the expense of keeping it registered and on the road. Or what about the expense of public transport if you don’t have one? All those things conveniently forgotten by all those who say it is possible to live on $35 a day! What a dream world some people live in!

  • Reply January 10, 2013

    Anne

    I think we need Monica Attard to do a story about this, Hooplarians. The voice of reason – and of course indisputable facts! How about it? Thank you in anticipation!

  • Reply January 11, 2013

    ro.watson

    Thanks Sarah B. Now I know it is o.k to spit a cherry pip with some discretion, so long as there is the “right” bowl to “spit” it into via a discreet hand~ and thanks for the information on the difference between a serviette and a napkin. As usual, it is the little things which can make such a huge difference….

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