Hume hits back at concerns budget measures were inadequate for women

2020 budget 2020 federal budget Jane Hume women's wealth HESTA Women in Business

8 October 2020
| By Jassmyn |
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The Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services, and Financial Technology, Jane Hume, has hit back at criticism of the Federal Budget that it missed the mark for helping women and has said that it was “not a budget for men”.

The Budget announced on Tuesday delivered the Government’s ‘2020 Women’s Economic Security Statement’ that said it was working towards increasing women’s workforce participation, improve earning potential and enhance economic independence.

“The $240.4 million package will deliver employment opportunities, support to parents and support for women in the workplace,” it said.

“This includes employment programs to support women’s leadership and development, and increase opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), business and male-dominated industries.”

Responding to criticism on Twitter that the package was inadequate Hume said that the Budget was not exclusive of women and it was “not a budget for men”.

“It’s for all Australians and record support for all Australians is being provided,” she said on Twitter.

“As you know, the Women’s Economic Security Statement is an additional measure of support for women. The Government is committed to equality for women and committed to the best outcomes for the security of all Australians.”

During question time on Wednesday, the Shadow Minister for Women, Julie Collins, asked why the package totalled 0.024% of the $1 trillion Liberal debt and thus “leaving Australian women behind” in the budget.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded with: “Mr Speaker, our plan for women is ensuring that they do get back into jobs. That the businesses that they may have had to close get to reopen. That the businesses that are going to employ more Australians. And the tax that they pay will be less, Mr Speaker.

“And as all Australian families sit around the table at home, they will have woken up this morning with an even greater sense of confidence, a sense of confidence knowing that this government has their back, including women, Mr Speaker, because women are part of an increasing part of our labour force.

“And they will continue to grow in our labour force because of the skills and the attainment that they are being able to achieve.

“Under this government, the gender pay gap got to its lowest level. Under this government, the labour force participation of women got to its highest level, Mr Speaker. That is what we will continue to pursue through the many policies that are outlined in this budget.”

Industry superannuation fund, HESTA also said the Federal Budget missed its opportunity to address systemic weaknesses in the economy that were exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

HESTA chief executive, Debby Blakey, said the Budget directed many stimulus measures towards male-dominated industries and did little to address entrenched social and gender inequality that held back the economy.

“There is ample evidence to show that applying a ‘gender lens’ to stimulus measures ensures governments maximise the effectiveness of public expenditure,” she said.

“It’s particularly disappointing that the Government did not look at childcare reform to broaden access to affordable, high-quality early education as this is one of the most effective ways to support the economic recovery and improve women’s workforce participation.”

Blakey called on the Government to put policies in place and investment initiatives that supported social infrastructure.

“This includes childcare, aged care, disability care and public and affordable housing, all of which will increase women’s workforce participation, provide further social infrastructure investment opportunities and, in turn, strengthen the economy by placing it on a more sustainable, resilient and equitable footing,” she said.

“Get this right and Australia could land a ‘triple dividend’ – a more efficient acceleration of economic growth, higher long-term productivity and greater resilience to meet future challenges like our ageing population and pandemic shocks.”

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