13 May 2021

Alison Pennington: “After last year’s widely critiqued ‘hard hats’ budget, with its narrow focus on announcing big construction projects (many of which still haven’t got past the photo-op stage), this year the Coalition announced $3.4 billion in funding over four years to purportedly address women’s economic security, safety and health. Keep in mind, that represents just 3.6 per cent of the total $96 billion in new tax and spending measures announced in this budget. The extra spending on women consists of small amounts of money divided across lots of different things. Like a low-quality showbag, these measures are short-term sweeteners. Perishable after the forward estimates. … Much-needed funding for domestic violence services will increase by $250 million per year — but is then cut by 99 per cent, down to just $2.3 million, in 2025-26. Apparently, the violence crisis will be over by then. In total, this is small, short-term spending for women, compared with permanent and much more expensive changes announced for high-income earners and men. … The wages crisis hits women hardest, and a budget that ignores wages could never be called a ‘women’s budget’. Four million women or 65 per cent of all women’s jobs are in low- and middle-income services industries like hospitality, retail, and health care and social services. … What good is money spent on getting women into the workforce, if they’re not earning enough on the job?“