The word ‘women’ wasn’t mentioned during Treasurer Scott Morrison’s Budget Speech in Parliament last night.
But we’re not alone. ‘Climate change’ also didn’t get a mention, nor did ‘sustainability’ or ‘environment’. Regardless, Morrison did note that “we cannot forsake our burdens onto the next generation”.
The words that were high on the list, and repeated a number of times were “fairness”, “security” and “opportunity”.
But while this budget isn’t a game-changer for women (and once again the government has not issued a ‘Women’s Statement’ to assess its impact on women), it is slightly better than what we’ve seen in previous years.
In particular, it’s moved a long way from the 2014 days of then Treasurer Joe Hockey’s disastrous “lifters and leaners” budget, made worse by a photograph that circulated of him smoking a cigar on the lawns of Parliament House.
Regardless, back to Morrison’s mantra of “fairness, security and opportunity”, there isn’t a huge amount on offer to improve opportunities for women, particularly for aiding women’s workforce participation.
For working parents, an additional $240 million has been offered to support universal access to pre-school for all four-year-old. This comes on top of the $2.5 billion childcare package reform.
And when it comes to ‘security’ for women, it’s hard to spot much on domestic violence nor on improving financial security for women – other than a mention of supporting victims of domestic violence in the $375 million extension of homelessness funding to the states.
So is this Budget fair? Well as always, that depends on who you ask.
There are efforts made to get it there, including on housing affordability with tax breaks promised to first home buyers. However, the $30,000 raised from salary sacrificing might not go a long way in putting down a deposit in a major metropolitan market.
There’s also the $2.2 billion over four years on offer to fund schools, and a new Medicare levy announced in order to help fully fund the NDIS. Another $2.8 billion will go to hospitals, and Mental health is also being considered, with $110 million in funding allocated.
Meanwhile, this Budget also aims to raise more revenue from the banks, issuing a levy that aims to raise more than $6 billion from our five largest banks. It’s unusual to see “senior bank executives” listed as a loser from a Liberal Budget, but they look set to face new accountability rules that could see them stripped of bonuses and de-registered. However, it should be noted they will not face a Royal Commission.
But as revealed last week, university students will face a 7.5% rise in fees, and be forced to pay back their debts earlier.
Another controversial measure is the introduction of drug testing trials for 5000 welfare recipients. This is a harsh and demoralising measure that will affect our most vulnerable citizens.
This budget is underwhelming, but at least it’s not as alarming as what we’ve seen in previous years.