In 2004, then Treasurer Peter Costello memorably encouraged Australians to “have one for mum, one for dad, and one for the country.”
Over the weekend, our current Treasurer took a leaf out of Costello’s book - “my message to all Australians is that having a son or daughter is great news for them, and also great for the economy.”
Both Treasurers are pointing to the importance of population in times of economic downturn. In fact there are three P’s that are integral to our economic recovery – population, participation, and productivity.
Watch: Things mums never hear. Post continues below.
We need more people, more people working, and more economic productivity as a result.
Unfortunately, the Government has failed to understand the importance of women when it comes to all three P’s.
Beyond the Treasurer’s words of encouragement, the Government failed to offer almost anything to support women through this recession.
Women make up 51 per cent of our population, yet in the almost thousand pages and one trillion dollars that made up last week’s Budget, women were almost entirely neglected.
The reality is when families are sitting around deciding whether to have children, or whether the second-wage earner should re-enter the workforce, they are adding up the expected expenses.
They are doing the maths on what makes financial sense for their families. And for many parents, one of the greatest expenses is child care.
In 2019, 18 per cent of household budgets in average were taken up by child care fees.
A recent survey by the Front Project highlighted the impact child care costs have on family decision making, including socialising, where they live and how much they work.
More than half of respondents indicated child care costs impact their weekly grocery budgets.
If child care costs too much, many families make the decision that the second income earner, usually the woman, doesn’t return to work full time.
In addition to cost being a barrier, it is well-documented that the current child care system and its interaction with the tax system dis-incentivise the second income earner from working a fourth or fifth day in the week.
A recent study from KPMG suggests mothers can face workforce disincentive rates of between 75 and 120 per cent when they undertake an extra day of work.