ACTU President Michele O’Neil has called on the Morrison government to provide a budget that delivers for women, telling the National Press Club, “A better budget for women is not just a better budget for women, it’s better economic management, it’s better for men, it’s better for everyone.”
While Australia’s post-pandemic economic recovery has been encouraging, O’Neil warned that this recovery is fragile and unequal, outlining the many disadvantages currently faced by working women.
“The gender pay-gap in Australia is still far too wide. Across all jobs…women make 31% less per week than men,” O’Neil said.
“Women are still grossly overrepresented in insecure work with 57% of women workers experiencing job insecurity – and that was before Covid hit.
“Women have less sick leave than men, less long service leave, less superannuation and less control over their rosters and their hours.
“Women are still held back by the failure of Government to deliver free high quality universal early childhood education and care.
As well as facing financial inequality, O’Neil pointed out that for many women, insecure work can put their safety at risk.
“If a woman employed in the most powerful building in Australia felt powerless to report an assault, imagine what faces women workers in low paid, insecure and casualised environments.
“Sexual harassment is about power – and those without power are subject to the threat of an unsafe workplace.”
Noting the failures of the last Federal budget to address these inequalities, O’Neil said the Government is on notice to commit to real change for women.
“Many of us are wondering whether we have witnessed a genuinely transformative moment for women over the last few months or whether once the headlines die down, so will any commitment to real change.
“The 2021 budget will give us the answer.”
At the National Press Club address, O’Neil launched For a Stronger, Balanced and Inclusive Recovery – a report that proposes solutions which the Morrison government could act on immediately to protect working people and build greater resilience in the economy.
“We believe that the role of Government is to shape the economy to make people’s lives better,” she said.
“This budget must deliver measures to support women’s workforce participation, wage equality, safety and key services and be central to the Government’s plan for continuing economic recovery.
“These must include the resources required for free, universal quality childcare, an expanded 26 week Paid Parental leave scheme available to be shared between parents, 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave in the National Employment Standards and the urgent implantation of the full 55 recommendations in the Respect @ Work report.”
“In two weeks’ time, when the Treasurer is on his feet, Australian women will see what the Government chooses to do about this inequality.
“This is not just a matter of justice, a matter of a better society for all – it’s good economic management.”