Federal Budget Coalition ministers deny federal budget overlooks women

Coalition ministers deny federal budget overlooks women

australia budget 2020 women
Industry Minister Karen Andrews said much work had been done to help women, but more was needed. Photo: Getty
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Senior ministers in the Morrison government deny women have been overlooked in the federal budget.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston labelled the criticisms as misreporting.

“Every single measure in the budget is available for women,” she told the ABC on Thursday.

“To suggest the budget doesn’t focus on women, I think, is wrong.”

Senator Ruston noted one section of the budget – the women’s economic security statement – contained $240 million for specific initiatives.

But the funding allocation is a pittance compared to multibillion-dollar commitments directed to various male-dominated industries.

There is also evidence programs rolled out throughout the coronavirus pandemic have benefited men the most.

Women have represented more than 50 per cent of job losses during the coronavirus-led economic downturn.

But just 8 per cent of apprentices that have received government support during the pandemic are women.

“Clearly there’s a lot of work that has been done and needs to continue,” Industry Minister Karen Andrews told ABC radio.

Later she said it was “disgraceful” to single out women as a budget issue.

“Our priority as our government is to create the jobs that are needed to bring us through the COVID recession in which we find ourselves and it’s just disgraceful to try to pick off women,” she said.

“Most women want to get out there and do their jobs quietly and efficiently, and they are doing that.”

Other sectors, including hospitality, tourism and the arts – which have large numbers of female workers – are still struggling to recover.

There is also no new funding for child care in the budget, which will have a disproportionate impact on women.

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said women were being left behind.

“This is a budget that managed to rack up more than a trillion dollars in debt and still managed to leave Australian women behind,” he told the ABC.

“Nothing for child care, nothing for workforce participation in the budget.

“A lot of Australian women who would have tuned in on Tuesday night expecting better would have been disappointed.”

Labor leader Anthony Albanese is expected to focus on child care during his budget reply on Thursday night.

Recent analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Office showed that even before the pandemic hit, a significant number of JobSeeker recipients were middle-aged women.

But they are excluded from a new “hiring credit” scheme that will see businesses paid for employing young people.