8 reasons the federal budget fails women
On Tuesday evening before the Federal Budget for 2020-2021 was announced, the Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg assured us all that their plan was “guided by our values”.
Yet as we watched, and waited, for how the workers and industries most heavily hit by COVID-19 would be supported (i.e women workers and the industries that employ a majority of women), it became increasingly clear that the Government was relying on an outdated view of the workforce, and values about how women fit into it, to guide us out of the recession.
As the economist, Danielle Wood put it: “Women [are] lost in a taxpayer-funded sea of high-viz vests and hard hats”.
It is unclear whose values are aligned to a budget that allocates more funding to a single road project than to supporting the economic security of Australian women.
Federal budget decisions not only reflect the values and the priorities of the Government, they lay the foundation for every household budget. Over 1.5 million Australians who are relying on JobSeeker will be living on $40 dollars a day from December. We know that a significant proportion of these people will be women, and for them, the reality of being de-prioritised will be significant.
This Budget is a window into our future. And for women, it makes equality even further away. While analysis of the Budget is still underway, here are some of the glaringly obvious failures which negatively impact women, and in doing so, will drag Australia’s economic recovery down.
Less than 1% to support women
Out of the $500 billion allocated in the 20-21 Federal Budget, the Government made a mere $240 million commitment to women. This is 0.038% of the total Budget. This does not take into consideration how much funding is being allocated to CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) women or women with disabilities.
More funding for waste management (literal trash) than for women’s economic security
$240 million over four years towards women’s economic security and $249 million over four years on waste management. This is not to say that waste management isn’t important, in particular, because a significant proportion of the funding will go to recycling initiatives. However, it does indicate that the activities of waste management are valued equally (or more than) the economic security of 51% of the population.
More for male-dominated industries
$14 billion towards construction and no additional investment in childcare. Reminder: for every $1 million spent in childcare it creates 10 jobs. For every $1 million spent in construction, it creates <1 job.
Tax cuts: $2.88 for men and $1 for women
It has been estimated that for every $1 of tax cut that women get, men will get $2.28. The Budget promises big tax cuts (for the rich) and unsurprisingly this means more of those concessions will go to men.
No support for older women
Single women over 55 are the fastest growing demographic experiencing homelessness. This Budget does nothing to ensure their economic safety or to create more jobs for them.
$300 less for those out of work
Those who are out of work will lose $300 per week from their paychecks. In August, the number of women relying on these payments is up 92% over the past 12 months. From December, the JobSeeker payment, which is now supporting over 1.5 million Australians, will drop to $40 per day.
Failing to protect women
$450 million to intelligence and law enforcement agencies to address “domestic threats” but not a cent of new funding to address the violence women experience in their homes. 1 in 10 women in a relationship has experienced abuse during COVID.
Money for chaplains in schools, but nothing to support Aboriginal Girls achieve education
$61 million is being allocated to school chaplains, but nothing is allocated to support Aboriginal girls to achieve educational outcomes to Close The Gap.