The Federal government has announced a new package aimed at sparking a “tradie-led recovery” with an estimated price tag of $688 million to boost construction in the wake of the coronavirus related slump.
Under the HomeBuilder package the Morrison government will offer one-off cash payments worth $25,000 to eligible singles and couples planning to build or renovate homes between June and the end of December.
The Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement on Thursday that the new program was about job creation, and about supporting one million workers in the sector including builders, painters, plumbers and electricians.
Mining is the only other industry more dominated by men in Australia than construction: at least 82% of construction workers are men. And, they are well paid: the average salary for a construction worker in Sydney is around 32% higher than the national average.
It also boasts a hefty gender gap when it comes to pay: the few women who do work in the sector earn 17% less than their male peers.
And this is the sector the Federal government has deemed worthy of a $688million package that’s design is already being questioned?
Given we know women account for 55% of job losses postCOVID19, and we know women always earn less anyway, and that they happen to congregate in the lowest paid sectors, the idea of a well paid, male-dominated industry being the recipients of a $688million stimulus is hard to swallow.
Particularly when you consider this. Early childhood educators in Australia with a certificate III are paid an hourly award rate of $21.29, which is nearly half the average Australian wage of $42.84 per hour.
By comparison a metal fitter, with a certificate III and trains for the same period of time, makes an average of $39.47 per hour.
Since April many early childhood educators, already among the lowest paid workers in the country, have been under significant financial pressure.
The combination of parents taking children out, being ineligible for JobKeeper and early childhood education and care services being forced to operate with just 50% of the capped fee revenue from pre-COVID19 has created considerable financial hardship.
Despite the service these workers provide being deemed so incredibly valuable, by the Prime Minister and the Education minister no less, that it couldn’t possibly collapse, these workers have barely been consulted.
The fact they’ve been pushed to the brink has barely raised an eyebrow in Canberra. Some operators been dipping into their own savings and even remortgaging houses to stay open: yet they haven’t even been able to secure so much as a meeting with the education minister, let alone a commitment to ensuring their viability.
Against that backdrop it’s hard to imagine a more insulting response than an announcement that $688million will be made available to a well paid industry with very few women in the ranks.