THE WOMEN'S BUDGET STATEMENT
The Chronicle, 20 June 2017
Many things have been said about federal budgets, but ‘page-turner’, ‘must-read’ and ‘unforgettable’ are not among them. Full of tables, charts and acronyms, even the most dedicated public servants would only keep the budget by the bedside if they suffered from insomnia.
But budgets matter. They tell us about the government’s priorities. How they choose to tax and spend is a marker of the values of those in charge.
Starting in 1983, Australian Governments of both political stripes produced a women’s budget. Unfortunately, this ceased in 2013. Since then, the Labor Opposition has produced the annual statement.
This year, our federal budget statement paints a worrying picture. Medicare funding will remain frozen for three more years – disproportionately affecting women. Because women make up a majority of tertiary students, they will be especially affected by the billions of dollars of funding cuts to universities such as the Australian National University, the University of Canberra and the Australian Catholic University. Meanwhile, men will get most of the benefit from the government’s decision to provide a tax cut to the highest earning 2 percent.
Globally, cuts to international aid mean less funding to family planning services in developing nations. Together with the United States’ decision to reintroduce the ‘global gag rule’, this will hurt millions of women and children in developing nations.
According to the Global Gender Gap Report, Australia has slipped from 19th place to 46th place since 2013. As the only jurisdiction in Australia where women make up a majority of the territory assembly, Canberrans know that we can do better.
It isn’t enough to talk about fairness – you need the right policies too. If we are to close the gender gaps in Australia, we need a better federal budget than this one.