The Budget that Forgot Women

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

THE BUDGET THAT FORGOT WOMEN

 

OPINION PIECE

THE HOOLPLA

TUESDAY, 3 JUNE 2014

 

Last week former Prime Minister Julia Gillard summed up the government’s budget perfectly. At the Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration, she said:

“Budgets are made up of choices. They make us – all of us, no matter what side of politics we are on – think about what we care most about – what we
want valued in our society. What we want to create and reward, preserve and defend.”

By that measure, Tony Abbott’s first Budget is terrible for Australian women. And you don’t have to look hard to see why.

Mr Abbott had all the credentials to be the Prime Minister for women, said the Liberals before the last election. He’s got a wife and three daughters, they said – what else is there to know? He wants to pay millionaire women of ‘calibre’ $50,000 to have a baby. What more proof did we need of genuine commitment to women?

Let’s take a quick look at some examples of what’s happened since:

FAMILY BUDGETS

The facts

Many Australian families are already struggling to make ends meet.

Tony Abbott’s promise

“A dumb way [to cut spending] would be to threaten family benefits or to means test them further.” Speech, 4 May 2011

Tony Abbott’s Budget

For example:

  • A family with two kids aged 5 and 12, on a combined income of $95,000 will be nearly $5,000 a year worse off with cuts to family tax benefits, the GP tax, the petrol tax, cuts to the Schoolkids bonus, and the increased cost of medicines.
  • An unemployed 26 year old will be nearly $7,000 a year worse off with no Newstart payments for six months, increased health costs, and cuts to the income support bonus.

HEALTH

The facts

Women account for around 60 per cent of GP visits. Under the former Labor Government, GP bulk-billing rates rose to record highs, with around 82 per cent of visits to the GP free to the patient.

Tony Abbott’s promise
“…no cuts to health…” SBS News , 6 September 2013

Tony Abbott’s Budget

  • A $7 GP tax every time you visit your family doctor. $55 billion cut from health, which means hospital beds will close and waiting times will blow out.
  • Price of medicine goes up to $42.90 per script.

EDUCATION

The facts

Many Australian families are finding it hard to meet the costs of education for their children.

Tony Abbott’s promise

“…no cuts to education…” Channel 7 News , 6 September 2013

Tony Abbott’s Budget

  • $30 billion cut from schools.
  • Cuts all federal funding for preschool – $500 million.
  • Schoolkids bonus cut, costing a family with two kids $15,000 through the course of their children’s schooling

PENSIONS

The facts

Most aged pensioners are women, because men usually have more superannuation savings.

Tony Abbott’s promise

“…no changes to pensions…” ABC News, 6 September 2013

Tony Abbott’s Budget

  • Cut fair indexation of the pension which made sure the pension kept pace with the cost of living. Had Tony Abbott’s new indexation system been in place for the last four years, a single pensioner on the maximum rate would be $1,560 a year worse off than they are today.
  • Increased the pension age to 70.
  • All pensioners and state seniors card holders are set to lose valuable concessions for public transport and utilities.
  • Veterans have also had their entitlements cut.

EQUAL PAY FOR WOMEN AND SUPERANNUATION

The facts

In Australia, women still earn 17.1 per cent less than men. Women make up 2.1 million of the 3.6 million workers who benefit from the Low Income Superannuation Contribution from the government. Women typically have lower superannuation assets because of lower workforce participation and the wage gap, so are less able to afford to fund their own retirement.

Tony Abbott’s promise

“…the commitment that the Coalition has given is that there will be no unexpected adverse changes to people’s superannuation.” Press conference, 2 April 2013

Tony Abbott’s Budget

  • Cut the Low Income Superannuation Contribution up to $500 a year for workers on incomes below $37,000.
  • Delayed Labor’s plan to increase compulsory superannuation contributions from 9 per cent to 12 per cent, which would have seen a 30 year old on average wages with an extra $100,000 in super when they retire.

HOUSING

The facts

Women and girls make up about 60 per cent of all people accessing homelessness services – about a quarter of those are fleeing domestic and family violence.

Tony Abbott’s promise

“The Coalition believes it is fundamental that women and their families are safe from violence.” Coalition election policy, 2013

Tony Abbott’s Budget

  • $44 million cut from homelessness services in the first year alone.

OVERSEAS AID

The facts

Last year alone Australia’s aid budget: meant 305,000 additional births were attended by a skilled birth attendant; 2.76 million children were vaccinated; and 24,800 women survivors of violence received counselling, crisis accommodation, legal and medical support.

Tony Abbott’s promise

“The Coalition remains committed to the Millennium Development goal of increasing foreign aid to 0.5 per cent of GNI.” Coalition election policy, 2013

Tony Abbott’s Budget

  • Cut $7.6 billion from the aid budget.
  • Abandoned the Millennium Development Goal target of 0.5% of Australia’s Gross National Income to be spent on aid.

This federal Budget makes it harder for women to balance the family budget, and it cuts all the services we rely on – health and education especially.

As Julia Gillard put it, government Budgets are about choices and values. Tony Abbott has delivered a Budget that takes away choice and security for women.

Mr Abbott’s choices in this Budget so clearly reveal his values.

Tony Abbott has chosen to pay millionaires $50,000 to have a baby, while at the same time cutting family tax benefits for ordinary families, cutting $500 million from preschools, cutting $450 million from Outside School Hours Care, and scrapping the Schoolkids bonus. This comes on top of cuts to the wages of childcare workers. That really says it all.


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