Most significant Budget or blunder yet for women?

The 2018 Budget could be the most significant yet for women around work and superannuation, then again it could be a massive missed re-election opportunity.

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The 2018 Federal Budget is likely to be the most significant budget yet for Australian women, but don’t get too excited because it may not actually deliver on anything until an election gets called.

The Australian Financial Review reported this morning that Tuesday’s May budget will set aside “significant” funding for practical measures to help more women back to work and build their “financial security and resilience”.

The report added that this funding package would dwarf the $100 million announced by Malcolm Turnbull in one of his first acts as Prime Minister to tackle violence against women in 2015.

But speaking to the ABC’s AM program this morningMinister for Women and Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer said the exact funding and policy measures will not be unveiled until the September sitting session of Parliament.

The timing is convienient given that next federal election could get called later this year or early next.

Ms O’Dwyer said the policies will be wide-ranging and designed to help with both improving women’s workplace participation, as well as including concessions to help close the superannuation gap.

The ABC then reported that the funding will be included in the budget’s “contingency reserve” for future policies.

So judging by this, it’s likely that the May Budget will include a a financially-pink coloured promise that could help more women enter and stay in the workforce, further tweaking of superannuation – potentially, more assistance for victims of domestic violence – but nothing will actually be delivered until funding is secured later in the year, when the female dominate vote is likely to matter.

IF this is what unfolds in Tuesday’s May Budget, I will be bitterly disappointed.

If all we get is a promise for future funding at a future date, then the federal government is doing nothing more than taking advantage of the fact that in 2017 and 2018 women’s issues have received increased media attention.

This has been the case particularly around gender pay equality in the workforce and in retirement savings, and domestic violence and harassment.

Past budgets have failed to include any meaningful assistance to women in the areas where it is desperately needed, such as in pay equality, superannuation savings, domestic violence and childcare assistance.

I had hoped that given in 2017/2018 women’s issues have become louder, that politicians would respond progressively but any further delay is a setback and smells like ignorance.

Indeed if the government fails to deliver for women in this May Budget, it could present the Labor party with another opportunity.

This would follow last week’s promise by Labor to abolish the tampon tax if it wins the next federal election. A move celebrated by women.

The government has previously committed to reducing the gender participation gap by 25 per cent by 2025, and has promised $2.5 billion for childcare and $430 million for pre-school children.


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