BILL Shorten says he wants to put tackling domestic violence in the forefront of the nation’s mind if he wins the Labor leadership.
And he and rival Anthony Albanese say Labor made a mistake when it shifted single mothers from parenting payments onto the Newstart Allowance.
Mr Shorten said domestic violence was too much of a taboo topic in society, and he wanted Labor to be a “brave party” on this issue and work at changing that.
“People expect the Labor Party to show leadership and just because we’re in opposition doesn’t mean we can’t dominate some of the debate,” Mr Shorten told Meet the Press.
He said estimations were that there were about 250,000 assaults on women by men a year and that he believed domestic violence was the largest contributor to homelessness for women.
Mr Shorten said he expected there would be bipartisanship on the issue from Government.
He said he wanted to examine rules in SA that meant men had to leave the home if they had assaulted their partner.
“I also know that some of the greatest tragedies we see recorded in our newspapers about the murder of women by men who say they love them is that some of these men have already received warnings and have received admonishment by the system for breaking the law already,” he said.
Mr Shorten said domestic violence was not a women’s issue, but “a men’s issue” and national issue.
“And I believe one of the functions of our parliament is to sometimes not get an upward tick in the polls, or a downward tick in someone else’s popularity, it is about using the national parliament to set a standard which we expect in this nation about protecting women from men,” he said.
Meanwhile, both Mr Shorten and Mr Albanese have admitted the party did the wrong thing by single mothers when it implemented welfare cuts this year and want the party to revisit its policy stance.
In January, tens of thousands of single mothers, many working part time, were shifted off parenting payments and onto the Newstart Allowance, leaving many between $60 and $100 a week worse off, but saving taxpayers $728 million over four years.
Mr Shorten, who was workplace relations minister in the Gillard government, said: “We sent all the wrong messages out about sole parents.”
“Sole parents do it hard.
“There are legitimate grievances that have emerged from the policy we articulated.”
Mr Albanese said it was important to acknowledge mistakes and “we made a mistake” on sole parent payments.
“It essentially meant that some of the most vulnerable people ended up with less income but perhaps just as importantly to them, to those that I’ve spoken to, there was a lack of respect, I think, for the role that they play as single parents and a great deal of disappointment,” he told ABC TV.
He said Labor should always be “the party of the disadvantaged”.
But he wouldn’t blame anyone for driving the policy, saying it was time Labor stopped “finger-pointing”, and everyone in the previous government, including himself, took a “collective responsibility”
Mr Albanese also criticised the releasing of internal Labor polling that suggested Labor’s election result would have been worse under Julia Gillard.
He said leaking of internal polling was not helpful and “simply has to stop”.