In his budget reply, Anthony Albanese said women have suffered most during the pandemic, but were reduced to a footnote in the budget. He promised a Labor government would undertake a generous reshaping of the childcare subsidy to enable more women to join the workforce or to work more hours.
This week, Michelle Grattan talks to Grattan Institute CEO Danielle Wood who, in writing for the Australian Financial Review, described the budget as “blokey”:
“We look at those areas that have received direct support - construction… the energy sector, defence, manufacturing, all of those areas where the government has put direct money into a particular sector - they tend to be male dominated sectors.
"And actually often they’re not the ones that have taken the hardest hit in this recession.
"The sectors that have been hit really hard: hospitality, tourism, the arts, recreation, administrative services tend to be actually slightly more female dominated… we really don’t see any direct assistance for those sectors in the budget. ”
When asked about the budget generally Wood, the president of the Economic Society of Australia, is concerned all the eggs have been put into the “private sector basket”.
“If it doesn’t pay off, then we may see unemployment sticking around for a long time to come.”
In the Grattan institute’s report, co-authored by Wood, and titled Cheaper Childcare, Wood endorsed reform in a similar vein to Albanese’s proposal.
“Our numbers suggest that for every dollar that you spend reforming the subsidy…you return more than two dollars in additional GDP,” she says.
“The Labor reforms… you’re probably talking, if its $2 billion a year… something in the vicinity of $5 billion return each year for GDP.”