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No contraception, no dole

By Gary Johns - posted Wednesday, 31 December 2014


If a person's sole source of income is the taxpayer, the person, as a condition of benefit, must have contraception. No contraception, no benefit.

This is not an affront to single mothers or absent fathers, or struggling parents. Such a measure will undoubtedly affect strugglers, it undoubtedly will affect Aboriginal and Islander people in great proportions, but the idea that someone can have the taxpayer, as of right, fund the choice to have a child is repugnant.

Large families of earlier generations were the result of the combination of absent contraception and the need to have many children, in order that some survive to care for parents in old age.

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These conditions do not now apply. Infant mortality is minuscule in all sectors of society, and the taxpayer picks up the tab for aged care.

Therefore, there should be no taxpayer inducement to have children. Potential parents of poor means, poor skills or bad character will choose to have children. So be it. But no one should enter parenthood while on a benefit.

It is better to avoid having children until such time as parents can afford them. No amount of ''intervention'' after the fact can make up for the strife that many parents bring down on their ­children.

As commissioner Tim Carmody wrote in the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry report in 2013, ''some families will never rise to the challenge or have the capacity or commitment needed to take responsibility for the children they bring into the world''.

And so it was that taxpayers were confronted with two cases over Christmas. Both happened to be indigenous, but of course, many non-indigenous cases abound. The first, in Cairns, involved a single mother with nine children from five fathers.

The usual allegations of failure to support were levelled at authorities. Gracelyn Smallwood, the enduring indigenous north Queensland activist, wanted ''a 24-hour culturally appropriate service'' for such mothers.

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Indeed, all manner of culturally appropriate support has been forthcoming, but as Carmody found, ''the growing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care has severely outpaced the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers''.

Better this woman had fewer children. Better men on benefits also could be prevented from having children.

Which recalls the second case, in Redfern, of contested parenting between the NSW Department of Family and Community Services and a grandmother for her daughter's, and an absent father's, six children.

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This article was first published in The Australian.



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About the Author

Gary Johns is a fellow of the Australian Institute for Progress and an adjunct professor at QUT.

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