The Finance Minister says single parent payments 'saved her'. But will they see an increase?

Single parent payments are back on the table more than 11 years after the Gillard Government’s overhaul plunged tens of thousands of single mothers into poverty. 

Back in 2012, on the same day that then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered her infamous misogyny speech – in which she told Tony Abbott that she wouldn’t be lectured about sexism and misogyny – the government passed controversial legislation to strip welfare assistance by about $100 a week to single parents, most of whom were women.

The move also meant parents would no longer be able to receive the handout once their youngest child turned eight. This officially ended an arrangement put in place by the Howard Government that allowed those already on the payment in July 2006 to keep receiving it until their youngest’s 16th birthday. 

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Since then, parents have been shuffled from the single parent payment (which is about $960 a fortnight) to the Jobseeker allowance (which is about $176 less a fortnight) when their last child turns eight. 

While the cut saved the federal government $728 million over four years and $5 billion by 2020, it threw 80,000 single parents onto the lower payment. 

So, why’s everyone talking about the single parent payment now?

With Labor back in power, the party is under pressure to reverse Ms Gillard’s decision in next month’s federal budget and improve support for single parents. 


A special taskforce established to advise the government on welfare policy before the May 9 budget, called the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee, referred to the current single parent payment as “inadequate” and recommended increased support. 

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Meanwhile, the Women’s Economic Quality Taskforce (which was set up to advise on how to correct the gender imbalance on pay, opportunity, and support) is demanding that the government raises the cut-off age for the child from eight to 16. 

Is that likely to happen? 

While the Albanese government is believed to be considering lifting the eligibility age before a parent is kicked off the single parent payment, there are concerns that it will be phased in.  

“[The government] can’t do everything at once,” Treasurer Jim Chalmers said, as reported by The Guardian, amid rumours that the age could be increased to just 12 or 14 years of age. 

“[That would see] families falling back into poverty,” the chair of the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee, Sam Mostyn, argued, while the chief executive of Single Mothers Australia, Terese Edwards, said reducing payments once children reach 12 years old would be “cruel and demeaning”.

Payment 'saved' Labor Senator.  

While the federal government has refused to say whether or not it will make changes to the single parent payment on May 9, a Labor frontbencher has admitted that it saved her. 

Katy Gallagher said the single parent payment saved her life. Image: Getty Images.


Finance Minister Katy Gallagher became a single mother at 27 years old when her fiance died in a cycling accident in 1997. At the time, she was 15 weeks pregnant. 

“I did live on that payment,” she told ABC Radio on Thursday morning. “It changed my life. It saved me.”

“It gave me the support I needed to get myself together to look after my baby and to get back into work. So, I 100 per cent understand the importance of these payments. They are life changing and so important.”

Senator Gallagher hasn't suggested an exact cut-off age for the payments – if changes were to be made – instead she said that the government would announce its position close to the release of the federal budget. 

Images: Getty/Canva. 

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