Labor Commits to Time Use Survey - Plibersek & Leigh - Media Release


A Shorten Labor Government will deliver the evidence-base to help us better understand how government policies impact women.

A Labor Government will provide $15.2 million in funding to the Australian Bureau of Statistics to conduct the Time Use Survey in 2020 and 2027.

The Time Use Survey is a detailed data collection that records the activities Australians take part in each day, including the amount of time they spend doing unpaid work such as caring for children and older people, and doing housework.

It is the most reliable estimate of work done in the home. Collecting this data allows us to understand the value and economic importance of unpaid work.

However, Australia’s last Time Use Survey was conducted in 2006 – before the introduction of the iPhone.

Australia now lags many economies that regularly collect time use data, including New Zealand, Canada, USA, the UK, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, South Korea, China, India, Japan and Brazil. This commitment responds to repeated calls from women’s organisations, including the National Foundation for Australian Women, Economic Security 4 Women, the Equality Rights Alliance, and the Women’s Electoral Lobby.

The disproportionate amount of unpaid caring work done by women is one of the drivers of the gender pay gap, and is part of the reason older women retire with around half the superannuation men do.

The Time Use Survey will allow us to place a monetary value on women’s unpaid caring work and acknowledge its economic importance.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Women, Tanya Plibersek, said:

“As Marilyn Waring – the founder of feminist economics - once said, ‘What we don’t count, counts for nothing.’

“The last time we did the sums – back in 1997 – unpaid work was worth $261 billion – equivalent to almost half of Australia’s GDP that year.

“Women do three quarters of the child care, two thirds of the housework, and 70 per cent of caring for elderly or disabled family members and friends.

Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh observed:

“Annabel Crabb once described the information in the ABS’s Time Use Survey as ‘a source of deep geek-joy’.  That’s true.

“But the survey isn’t just for the data nerds. As we approach International Women’s Day, it is important to reflect on the role government policy can play in fostering gender equality. The move to gender-equality needs a strong evidence-base.

The data has particular implications for analysing barriers to women's labour market participation and factors contributing to gender pay and wealth gaps, and addressing low female workforce participation despite high rates of tertiary education.

Time use data is a valuable tool for policy development in a number of government agencies including: Treasury, Department of Social Services, Department of Health, Department of Education, Department of Employment, Department of Infrastructure, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Office for Women.

The data is also used by academics, non-government organisations, and businesses.

The Abbott-Turnbull years have seen the public service virtually decimated, with adverse effects on the public service provision Australian families expect.



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