Discussion paper

Budget 2014-15 – a gender lens

28 May 2014

It has been the practice for over thirty years for Federal Governments to produce a Women’s Budget Statement as one element of the official Budget Papers.  In 2014 this practice ceased without explanation from the Government.

The National Foundation for Australian Women, a non-politically aligned feminist organisation, in conjunction with experts from a range of organisations, has taken up the task of analysing the implications of the Budget 2014-15 through a gender lens.  This follows an examination of the major political party policies in the lead up to the election (see http://www.nfaw.org/nfaw-election-2013/).  This work was part of a project to encourage women, when voting, to make informed choices.

Why a Gender Lens?

NFAW, with other women’s organisations, is committed to examining the potentially differential impacts of policies and their outcomes for men and for women, and whether the consequences of policies, intended or unintended, may adversely impact on women.

There is an average gap of 17 per cent between the incomes of men and women.  This gap is not decreasing.  Women take time out of the work force for child bearing, child rearing, and for care responsibilities for extended family members to a much greater extent than do men.   As a consequence women have lower rates of savings for retirement, and most women will eventually become wholly or partially dependent on the Age Pension.  Women are also underrepresented in the well-paying occupations and over represented in the feminised industries that are lower paid. Their career progression and therefore representation in the senior executive levels is often interrupted by the periods of unpaid care work and consequently women continue to be underrepresented on boards and other senior positions in the workforce.  Many older women have not had an extensive history of work-force attachment, and are unlikely to be good prospects for working until age 70.  Housing security is markedly worse for mature women than for men.

The biggest losers from the 2014 Federal Budget are women from virtually all walks of life, a detailed and disturbing analysis of the implications of the 2014-2015 Budget has found.

The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW), a leading non-partisan women’s advocacy group has found that:

  • An unemployed single mother with one eight-year-old child loses $54 per week or 12 per cent their disposable income.
  • Single mothers earning around two-thirds of the average wage lose between 5.6 per cent and 7 per cent of their disposable income. 
  • A single-income couple with two school-age children and average earnings loses $82 a week or 6 per cent of their disposable income.
  • An unemployed 23-year-old female loses $47 a week or 18 per cent of her disposable income. 
  •  For employed women using Family Day Care an immediate price rise in the order of $30+ per week per child is likely.
  • The increase in child care fees for parents on JET (Jobs, Education & Training) Child Care Fee Assistance and reduction in hours of JET subsidised care available will discourage participation in work and training.
  • Changes to university funding and housing security are likely to impact on women disproportionately.

Authors: Marian Baird, Darlene Cox, Mary Crawford, Frances Davies, Helen Hodgson, Kathy MacDermott, Ruth Medd, Amanda Robbins, Joan Ross, Sue Salthouse, and Jozefa Sobski. Editorial responsibility lies with Marie Coleman.

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