Playing the single mum card... The POS.
If your child is too ill to go to school today, do you take her on a business trip at the taxpayer’s expense? A moral bind surely, even if it is within the so-called company rules.
But if you’re a warrior for Single Motherhood, that excuses everything.
You can attend, with a sick child in tow, an overnight jaunt to see a few whales and shuck oysters because you are simply doing your job.
In other words, tick, another problem solved in the tyranny of life known as Single Motherhood.
That is, of course, if you’re blindly entitled like the Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young.
The Senator has this week been condemned nationwide for using a reported $3874.24 of taxpayers’ money to go whale watching with her daughter Kora last September in the Great Australian Bight.
Hanson-Young says she didn’t have an option and therefore had to take her unwell 11-year-old along on the trip to discuss BP’s plans to drill for oil in the marine reserve.
There was no alternative childcare available, it was not her fault so be quiet, haters. No regrets either at a decision that has subsequently been lambasted as a poor one.
But her world is not the world inhabited by the typical single mother raising a child bereft of a financial or care-contributing parent in the home.
In that alternate universe, there is usually a plan B such as a carer’s day or the decision to work from home while a sick child is cosy and recovering in bed.
Single parents, masters of the juggle even more so than the rest of us who work, often subtly move mountains behind the scenes to keep things ticking along. No fanfare or pats on the back required.
Senator, the gender card no longer comes up trumps and it’s time for any woman who plays it to stop.
Being a single mum does not equal special treatment.
Her fellow South Australian MP Cory Bernardi immediately seized upon her trip as “being out of touch” with voters and something that simply didn’t “pass the common sense or credibility test”.
Hanson-Young decided to fight fire with fire, telling Sky News: “Well the truth is... that I didn’t have a choice at the time.
“And you always weight up these things in terms of balance between the commitments of your job as a senator or indeed the demands on myself as a parent and a mum.
“So of course I don’t regret it.
“What I regret is the idea that there’s some grumpy old white men who have been deciding what is best for my family in the last 24 hours and I tell you what — I’m not going to be lectured to by some grumpy old men about how to be a mother or indeed what is best for my family.”
“There can’t be a family-friendly parliament and no provision for family travel. You can’t have it both ways,” Hanson-Young sniffed.
She also told one radio interviewer: “I think parents across the state can’t just take the day off work because their kid’s sick. Lots of parents know that.”
Then there’s the sanctimonious tweet she posted: “Shock horror! Woman can be mum & politician at same time.”
Thus the Single Motherhood card was comprehensively played.Facebook images of Senator Sarah Hanson-Young during the now infamous whale watching trip. (Pic: Facebook)
The senator at least conceded she is in a privileged position and does have help and that, yes, every parent struggles to get the balance right between work and family.
But there’s been no remorse, just an echo chamber repeating an excuse which insults all working parents: “As you know I am a single mum and I take my job really seriously”.
“I kept up my job as a mum and I kept up my job as a senator,” she also said, to shove her point down our throats.
Let’s not forget she also wheeled out the plight of single mothers in January when One Nation’s candidate David Archibald said taxpayers should not support those who are “too lazy” to attract and hold a mate.
She tweeted: “As a single mum myself, I am disgusted at One Nation’s attack on single mothers. Bunch of nasty fools.”
When she was ejected from the Senate in 2009 with her then two-year-old daughter screaming and crying, Hanson-Young said it was a “massive learning experience”.
“People will criticise the decisions you make as a mum in the public eye. You can’t stop that but what you can do is manage your own response,” she told an interviewer.
“I’ve learned to be very comfortable with my decisions on things, whether that’s policy, or the decisions I make about Kora’s life.”
Lesson learned? About what exactly?
Part of the Greens’ charter is to “break down inequalities of wealth and power which inhibit participatory democracy”. It also references the need to “encourage and facilitate more flexible work arrangements.” So that’s on target then.
But appointing yourself as an ambassador for single mums does not mean using your situation as an excuse.
After watching the Sky interview, one infuriated sole parent I know rang to tell me this: “It makes me mad that she should have the gall to try to drag me into her corner by nature of the fact that we are both single mums.
“I would also like to add my disgust that the senator managed to spend that money in two days — equivalent to my rent, phone bill and utilities for a month.
“There isn’t money left over for luxuries like whale watching cruises but that’s life. My kids have never even been close to an oyster.
“While I’m no killjoy, there’s something discomforting about the fact that an elected official — man woman, single married or partnered, can boldly make the decision to spend my taxes in this way and then trot out the old chestnut ‘I’m a single mother with no support’ to try to weasel her way out of the scandal.”
Yes. The Senator should pay back the cost of that trip and, possibly by the time you read this, she has come to her senses and got out her chequebook Bronwyn Bishop-style.
But this is a moot point compared her pathetic attempts to drum up sympathy by attacking our Achilles heel as working parents.