Senate debates

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Ministerial Statements

Women's Budget Statement 2022-23

4:47 pm

Photo of Dorinda CoxDorinda Cox (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to take note of the Women's Budget Statement for 2022-23. I want to start by saying that the Morrison government have seriously bungled their last chance to show they have what it takes to provide women's safety and economic security. The half-measures and spin put into the budget announcement yesterday are seriously underwhelming. But it's no surprise, because there is an election looming. It's no wonder that the Morrison government are desperately trying to improve their standing with Australian women, who have abandoned them in droves.

Some of the announcements are a step in the right direction. We particularly welcome the allocation of $25 million to the Illawarra Women's Trauma Recovery Centre, which in fact the Greens have championed—and I want to acknowledge the great work of our leader in the Senate, Senator Larissa Waters, who's not here with us today. But this budget is really a large grab bag of minimal measures that fall well short of what we know it takes to make women safe and ensure the economic security of women here in Australia. I say this because in my sector—the sector I came from when I joined the Senate—funding to address gendered violence falls well short of what women's organisations say is needed, what they have told this government time and time again.

It is the Greens who have committed to calling for what the sector are asking for, which is $1 billion per annum for frontline services to meet the existing demand. It is unconscionable to underfund services which will stop women being killed in this country in the epidemic of domestic violence. Whilst awareness-raising and training are absolutely crucial, they should be in addition to rather than instead of frontline and specialist services that the sector says it needs to meet the critical shortfall in supporting women and children who are fleeing family and domestic violence in this country.

The government's so-called 'enhanced' paid parental leave plan also does not increase the PPL payments. It doesn't add superannuation contributions and does nothing to actually incentivise shared care. In fact, it may have an opposite or perverse effect, leading mothers to take all 20 of their parental leave while fathers take none. But the Greens have an alternative: 26 weeks PPL payments which would match salaries of up to $100,000. Superannuation would be added along with use-it-or-lose-it incentives built in to encourage shared parenting.

The $100 million promised for crisis transition and affordable housing is pitiful and small compared to the $7.6 billion investment the sector says it needs to provide emergency and permanent housing for women, particularly for older women at risk of homelessness. The much-trumpeted expansion of the family home guarantee is no help, because it simply will increase house prices and encourage people to get into debt they just cannot afford.

Again this government has shown a lack of commitment to addressing family violence against First Nations women. Instead of a dedicated, stand-alone national plan to end violence against First Nations women in this country, they say there will be a First Nations action plan sitting underneath the national plan. This is clearly not what we—Senator Thorpe, sitting here, and I—have been asking for. But they've also baked real cuts into community controlled First Nations family violence services over the forward estimates and delivered no funding at all for the sector's peak body. That is a disgrace.

This budget will not close the gender pay gap. Child care is still not free, care work is still undervalued and the minimum wage and income support payments, which women and men receive, are still too low. This budget will not deliver economic security for women in this country. I welcome the additional funds for the Human Rights Commission to monitor the Respect@Work recommendation, but this is still being undermined by the broader cuts to the commission's budget.

The fact is that there is still no commitment to the key recommendation of a positive duty to all employers to make workplaces across this country safe for women. 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. We have marched. Last year was the March4Justice on the front parliament lawn. But, in place of divisive and material action, we have been served talkfests, cabinet reshuffles, flowery speeches and shiny baubles by a toxic, 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, and once again he has failed. He has failed because, unfortunately, he's a sexist dinosaur, and it's long past time to give him and his boys club the boot. The time is now.

Question agreed to.


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