The 2017 Budget has cheated Australian women out of some very important conversations.

Women are not just underwhelmed by the 2017 Budget announcement. They feel completely ignored.

According to results of Mamamia’s ‘Australian Women React: Federal Budget 2017’ survey*, 60 per cent of women gave the Budget a rating of 5 or less out of 10, ultimately disappointed that conversations around equal pay, climate change, aged care and domestic violence didn’t demand much, if any, airtime. Even less so were these issues the subject of much, if any, change.

This is just some of the other things they had to say.

We’re not buying the fact there will “better days ahead”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, only a quarter of women are feeling optimistic about their future following the Budget’s release. Those who do have a sense of optimism are ones who, overwhelmingly, feel secure financially and aren’t feeling the pressure of the housing market.

In fact, 35 per cent of those who feel optimistic about the future own property outright, while 38 per cent of positive thinkers have an investment property. To add to that, more than 50 per cent of those who felt secure in the future after the Budget are Liberal supporters and 30 per cent retired.

Despite a stereotype that would suggest otherwise, young women are engaged with what’s going on, and hold strong but extreme views on what was presented on Tuesday night. Those on the younger side and aged 18-24 weren’t neutral or disengaged. In fact, 41 per cent felt optimistic and 44 per cent pessimistic.

The issues that were ignored

Rather than feeling cheated on the changes the government intend to make, women feel cheated out of conversations they want to have on issues important, and uniquely relevant, to them.

70 per cent of women were disappointed the budget did not address equal pay, with it surfacing as the key issue the government ignored. In an interview with Mamamia for Budget analysis, Research Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney and commentator Eva Cox pre-empted this reaction, arguing the government is doing “very little” about the low income of women. She added there’s “nothing that says [they] really care that, economically, women are far behind”.


The Mamamia OutLoud team on The Budget and the week in politics. Post continues after audio.

Those in the government’s corner would argue that the changes to the ParentsNext program, which aims to help new parents into work, plays into a desire to help parents (invariably women) earn money again. However, results show women did not consider this a big enough nod to the pay gap.

A further 68 per cent of women said they were disappointed climate change was left off the table, after they failed to invest further funding in their climate policy, the Emission Reduction Fund.

61 per cent felt domestic violence was also ignored. Although the government ordered a review of the family law system to ensure it can deal with domestic violence and child abuse cases, and promised $3.4 million to expand a trial of domestic violence units in legal centres, their failure to work alongside their state counterparts – who appear far more committed to the cause – is troubling women.

Additionally, women felt there was a Paid Parental Leave (PPL) and childcare shaped hole where there should have been more action. 53 per cent of women wished PPL was addressed. As for childcare? 59 per cent felt robbed of that conversation.

Then there’s the 63 per cent of women who felt that aged care was ignored. And the 60 per cent who wanted something to be done about tampon tax. And the 61 per cent who felt that, despite a pledge to allow first home buyers to use their super fund as a means of saving for a house, housing affordability wasn’t addressed well enough (maybe because saving for a house doesn’t automatically make the house any more affordable? Just saying).


The Worst off Woman

There’s one woman who feels she comes off worst from this whole Budget shebang.

She’s 40 to 44 years old, has mid-range income, and a single woman living in rural Australia.

For her, housing affordability wasn’t addressed as well as she wanted, nor was the cost of living (36 per cent said this was the main driver of their disappointment in the Budget).

Overwhelmingly, women are concerned about housing affordability, with less than 1 in 5 believing that the budget decisions will make housing more affordable.

Thirty-three years ago, Australia was the first country in the world to bring in a “Women’s Budget Statement”. It was abolished in 2014 by Minister for Women, Tony Abbott.

According to ActionAid, when the Hon. Susan Ryan established it in 1984, she said: “The Budget had been designed by men, for men and before the Statement was introduced, everyone assumed that would work for women as well. It didn’t, obviously.”

With all these missing conversations, it’s probably about time we brought that back, yeah?

*Source: ‘Australian Women React – Federal Budget 2017’, Mamamia Research, May 2017.

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