All Talk or Big Moves? Will Labor’s Budget Actually Help Women?

Despite the fact that the lives that we live are fleeting and precious, the plights of most women are typically ignored. This happens in our homes, where female-identifying folks do most of the housework. This happens in our workplaces, where there’s still a feral gender pay gap. And it happens in our politics. The needs of Australia’s women often go unanswered whenever a federal budget is dropped.

However, the Federal Labor Government has promised that it’s going to do things differently this year. They claimed as much back in March when they launched their 2022 Women’s Budget Statement.

“Gender inequality holds our economy back. If we want our economy and society to be stronger than it was before COVID, we need to remove the obstacles to gender equity,” Treasurer Jim Chalmers has said in the past. 

“Labor’s plan includes cheaper and more accessible child care, an important economic reform to boost participation. We will expose and target discriminatory behaviour creating the gender pay gap and better support workers in sectors that are big employers of women, like health and education.”

However, Chalmers made these statements before Labor was elected. Like many a politician before him, there’s a chance that he could backtrack on his word.

So, with that in mind, how likely is it that Labor’s first federal budget will actually support women? Will it be all promises and no action? Or will it create real and meaningful changes? 

Whelp, The Latch chatted with Monash University’s Dr Blair Williams about this subject. Williams is a lecturer in Politics and International Relations. Moreover, she has a wealth of knowledge regarding the history of Australia’s federal budgets. So here’s what Williams had to say:

How Will Labor’s Budget Likely Stack Up?

Williams believes that Labor’s first federal budget will probably be better for women than a lot of other ones in recent memory. 

“I think this budget will be a lot better in comparison to recent ones. Say, like the last time we saw it at the start of 2022,” said Williams. “Or especially the October 2020 budget, which notoriously did not support women at all, despite the so-called pink recession.”

Back in October 2020, the Coalition was slammed for its federal budget only putting $240 million over five years towards helping women. This amount of money was estimated to have only accounted for 0.04% of the entire budget.

At the time, journalist Georgie Dent said, “Women’s safety, at work and at home, would not be assisted even if every single dollar of the $240 million was spent on it. It is deeply insulting to even suggest this contribution would help.”

On the current budget, Williams is hopeful this new one will somewhat address the gender pay gap, extend parental leave, and make childcare less expensive. This is because Labor campaigned on making these policies realties. 

Moreover, the current Federal Government hasn’t swept these promises under the rug. They have continually mentioned them since coming into power.

As our Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, said on the morning of October 25, “Today’s responsible family-friendly budget will invest in cheaper child care and six months paid parental leave.”

These policies would make a meaningful difference in the lives of many women, who are typically our family’s primary caregivers. It will give them some support when it’s 100% needed.

Williams also said, “I think they’ve also said that not everything will obviously be in this budget, but I think this budget would give a good indication of where they are going with some of these policies.”

Related: Labor’s $10 Billion Federal Budget Cuts — What Will Get Chopped?

Related: Labor’s First Budget Is Coming — Will It Improve Your Family’s Life?

The Huge Stage Three Tax Cuts Controversy

The stage three tax cuts isn’t a policy that Labor developed. Despite this being the case, the party has stated that they’ll be included in the budget. 

These tax cuts mean that people which earn between $45,001 and $200,000 will only have a marginal tax rate of 30%. This is a lower amount of tax than is currently required. 

Williams is concerned that these tax cuts will give some men more of a leg up in society, while a lot of women will continue to be stuck in its bottom rungs. 

“Because of the patriarchy, the gender pay gap, and primary care responsibilities, men in this society earn more. And they are more likely, if they are lucky enough to reach those upper echelons, to earn that kind of pay,” said Williams.

These stage three tax cuts would therefore allow wealthy men to give less money back to society. They could then use this extra income to create even more economic opportunities for themselves. Meanwhile, women earning less than $45,001 will still be paying the same percentage of tax, as this number isn’t going down.

“As a result, it won’t benefit women nearly as much as it will benefit men.”

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.