Everyone knows the dole is inadequate and impossible to live on yet when Families Minister Jenny Macklin was asked if she could live on $35 a day, she answered "I could."
Out of all the Labor ministers, she's probably the softest and most kind-hearted of them all, but she made a terrible mistake yesterday and she should hold another press conference today and admit she got it wrong. And when her Cabinet Minister salary of $6321 per week was disclosed, welfare groups were horrified.
On January 1, around 84,000 single parents lost their parenting payment because their youngest child turned six. They have been moved onto the Newstart allowance, a savage cut of up to $120 a fortnight.
But this story wouldn't even rate if it wasn't for the skulduggery that went on trying to cover it up. The TV footage clearly shows her saying "I could" yet her answer was transcribed as "inaudible" because a noisy car was revving its engine. Why such a stupid lie?
It's a brave move for the Labor Party but I can see the reasoning behind it. There is a small proportion of children growing up in families where generations have never worked and see no reason to change. The government is hoping this will send them running into paid work but if they have another child, they are home free for another six years.
Unfortunately because of Macklin's silly comment, it's overshadowed the good work she has done recently, particularly "Dad and Partner Day" - a new payment for dads or partners caring for a new baby, including adopting parents and same-sex couples. It comes under the Paid Parent Leave scheme and those eligible will get up to two weeks government-funded pay, currently $606 per week before tax when they are on unpaid leave from work or not working.
I shudder when I think of those single mums and their children out there trying to live on $246 a week, it wouldn't even cover a quarterly electricity bill and where are they supposed to live, under a bridge?
The cost of prescription medication also rose on January 1 by 70 cents for general patients who will now have to pay $36.10 per script. It's a cruel world out there and getting crueler.