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Female ministers defend PM’s overlooking of women in latest federal budget

A number of Scott Morrison’s female ministers have clearly been rallied to defend the Prime Minister and Treasurer after the announcement of the recent federal budget, responding to criticisms in how women have been treated.

Marise Payne, Minister for Women, has strongly defended tax cuts, wage subsidies and employment schemes as ‘gender neutral’.  Criticism has focussed on the budget favouring male dominated industries and overlooks the much higher number of women who have lost jobs during this pandemic.

It has been interesting to see the various women in Morrison’s government leaping to the defence of the Prime Minister and Treasurer, while playing down the obvious disadvantages women have endured during this pandemic.

Payne has consistently defended the criticisms, pointing to the situation where $101 billion of taxpayers’ money is supporting around 3.5 million workers as part of the JobKeeper process and 1.7 million of those recipients are women. This does not take into account, however, that a huge increase in the number of women in their 40s, 50s and 60s are relying on unemployment benefits for longer periods during the pandemic. They are the group that have lost most of the jobs, particularly part-time work in hospitality, aged care, and childcare which has been so severely affected by the pandemic.

The government spent $2.8 billion encouraging employees to retain their apprentices and support new employees, but the figures tell a frightening story – only 14,000 of the 180,000 apprentices supported through this scheme were women.  Another set of figures which is equally disturbing demonstrated that during the first three months of the pandemic women lost 147,000 full-time and 324,000 part-time jobs. As jobs slowly recovered, only 22,784 full-time jobs have come back for women, and part-time jobs are returning numbers around 266,000 for women.

The National Foundation of Australian Women found the federal budget ‘stimulated male-dominated jobs and industries’, and provided tax cuts for high earners, most likely to be men.

Disappointingly, the Office of Women had not been consulted on any of the governments’ policies before the budget was announced. The Office of Women had written of the disadvantages experienced by women during the pandemic.  An invitation to offer briefings on budget measures around early access to superannuation, JobKeeper and JobSeeker was ignored by the government and no replies were offered before the budget was announced.

It is hard to see how women will ever reach gender-equality when the women in parliament are not listening or speaking for them, but simply toeing the party line.

This article has been prepared for information purposes only and is not legal advice. For legal advice regarding your specific circumstances, please contact WR Law directly on (03) 5499 6131 or by email at admin@wrlaw.com.au