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Budget of spin and half-measures leaves Australian women underwhelmed

Media Release
Larissa Waters 30 Mar 2022

The Greens say the Morrison Government has bungled its last chance to show it takes women’s safety and economic security seriously with an underwhelming budget of half-measures and spin.

Lines attributable to Greens deputy leader and spokesperson on women Senator Larissa Waters:

“With an election looming it’s little wonder that the Morrison Government is desperately trying to improve its standing with Australian women, who have been abandoning the Liberals in droves.

“But this ain’t it. While some announcements are a step in the right direction, and we particularly welcome the $25 million allocated to the Illawarra Trauma Recovery Centre that the Greens have championed, the budget is largely a grab bag of bare-minimum measures that fall well short of what we know is needed to make women safe and ensure their economic security.

“The funding to address gendered violence is well short of what women’s organisations say is needed.

“The Greens have committed to the sector’s call for $1 billion per annum for frontline services to meet existing demand, because it is unconscionable to underfund services which stop women being killed in this epidemic of domestic violence.

“Whilst awareness raising and training is crucial, it should be additional to rather than instead of the frontline and specialist services that the sector says are needed to meet the critical shortfall in support for women and children fleeing domestic and family violence.

“The government’s so-called ‘enhanced’ paid parental leave plan doesn’t increase PPL payments, doesn’t add superannuation contributions, and does nothing to actually incentivize shared care. In fact it may have the perverse effect of leading mothers to take all 20 weeks of parenting leave with fathers taking none. Under the Greens’ 26-week PPL plan payments would match salaries up to $100k, super would be added, and ‘use it or lose it’ incentives built in to encourage shared parenting.

“The $100 million promised for crisis, transition and affordable housing is pitifully small compared to the $7.6 billion investment the sector says is needed to provide emergency and permanent housing for women, particularly older women at risk of homelessness. The much-trumpeted expansion of the Family Home Guarantee is no help because it will simply increase house prices and encourage people to get into debts that they cannot service.

“The government has also shown a stunning lack of commitment to addressing violence against First Nations women. Instead of a dedicated, standalone National Plan to End Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women, they’re saying there will be a First Nations ‘action plan’ sitting under the overarching National Plan. That is clearly not what First Nations groups have called for.

“They’ve also baked in real cuts to community controlled First Nations family violence services over the forward estimates, and delivered no funding at all for the sector’s peak body.

“This Budget will not close the gender pay gap. Childcare is still not free, care work is still undervalued, and the minimum wage and income support payments, which more women than men receive, are still too low. This Budget will not deliver economic security for women.

“We welcome the additional funds for the Human Rights Commission to monitor Respect at Work recommendations, but this is undermined by broader cuts to the Commission’s budget and the fact that there is still no commitment to the key recommendation: a positive duty on all employers to make workplaces safe.

“Australian women have spent nearly a decade trying to convince this government that their safety and economic security are issues that must be taken seriously. But in place of decisive and material action they’ve been served up talkfests, Cabinet reshuffles, flowery speeches and shiny baubles by a toxic and arrogant government that treats women as a PR problem to be managed.

“This was the PM’s last opportunity to stand up for Australian women. Once again he failed because he is a sexist dinosaur - it’s long past time to give him and his boys’ club the boot.”

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