House debates

Thursday, 12 November 2020


Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2020-2021; Consideration in Detail

12:16 pm

Photo of Katie AllenKatie Allen (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you for the interruptions. I'd like to continue about women's role in our economic recovery.

In his budget reply, the Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese, made comments in a similar vein. This is an archaic and, to be frank, borderline sexist view of the modern Australian workforce. It is premised on the idea that women are excluded from the high-skilled and high-paying industries where the jobs of the future ultimately lie. It is critical that we correct this gendered view of the workforce. The Morrison government is guided by the belief that a strong economy, grounded in private enterprise and scholarship, allows citizens to realise their aspirations. The 2020 budget centres on the premise of unshackling industries to allow us to deliver a strong, modern and resilient Australian economy now and into our future. It is about creating high-quality and sustainable employment opportunities for all Australians.

Modern manufacturing is critical to a modern Australian economy. It plays a key role in almost every supply chain and adds significant value to all sectors. It is important, however, to stress that we are not talking about the manufacturing of old. We're not talking about men in blue overalls bending metal. We're talking about complex, high-value-add manufacturing using smart technology and levering off research and development, design, logistics and services. We're talking about modern industries such as medical technology, recycling and clean energy, food and beverage, defence and space.

As we pivot from the health crisis to our economic recovery from the COVID pandemic, building on both our established and emerging strengths in modern industries such as these is critical. I'm particularly keen to see women step up to seize the opportunities of the manufacturing revolution of the 21st century, and so too is the Morrison government, with sizeable investments targeted at women in STEM, including in the 2020 Women's Economic Security Statement. More than 14,000 female apprentices and women have already benefited from the Morrison government's $2.8 billion supporting apprentices and trainees wage subsidy. The $1.2 billion commitment to the new Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements, which subsidises employers to take on new apprentices, will also greatly benefit women. Likewise we are supporting greater participation and outcomes for women in vocational education and training through the $585 million Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package.

The 2020 budget includes $25 million for the women in STEM cadetships and advanced apprenticeships to create STEM career pathways for up to 500 women, through industry supported and advanced apprenticeship-style courses starting just next year. I'm particularly keen on these initiatives as a woman in STEM myself and knowing that these are the high value-add jobs of the future. These are the sorts of things that help to close the gender pay gap.

Importantly, the Women's Economic Security Statement includes a $50 million investment, increasing women's workforce participation and measures to encourage more women into traditionally male dominated sectors. The benefit of enabling women in these fields is ultimately threefold. First, it supports our economic recovery post COVID. Second, these roles are often high paying and will help us to bridge the gender pay gap. People often think the gender pay gap is about the fact that women are paid to do the same job but paid differently to do the same job. In fact, the gender pay gap in Australia is more about getting women into high paying jobs. Third, increasing women's workforce participation promotes economic growth. We all know the three Ps of economic growth: participation, population, and, of course, productivity. This is so important to get women into the workforce to make sure they're getting the high paid jobs. KPMG estimates that halving the gap between women and men's workforce participation will produce an additional $60 billion in GDP by 2038 and cumulative living standing standards will increase by $140 billion. As we reimagine the Australian economy we need to also reimagine the role of women in the workforce and ensure they grasp the opportunities provided with both hands. My question to the minister is: could the minister please explain how the Women's Economic Security Statement will further the prosperity of women in the post-COVID economy?


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