The Morrison Government has delivered its budget for 2021. It’s always big news for working Australians, but this year it felt, well…bigger.
This budget was a chance to deliver real action on some of the challenges workers are up against every day. This was the moment to put Australia on a path to a stronger, balanced and inclusive recovery.
But did the budget live up to this promise?
Let’s break down how the budget measures up against the biggest issues facing working people.
Low wage growth
You’re going to see a lot of spin about this being a ‘big spending’ budget, but what you’re not going to see is that cash in your pocket. Unless you’re a CEO of a big corporation, in which case, weird that you’re reading this but also – cha-ching!
You see, big business is getting billions in tax write-offs. But for everyone else…well, we’re just being told to sit tight.
Yep. The budget has forecast that we won’t see any real wage growth until 2024/25 and offers no active ways to fix this.
So, despite overseeing the longest period of low wage growth on record, the Government has decided a couple more years without a pay rise won’t hurt us.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The Government could require private providers receiving billions in this budget – especially in aged care and early childhood education – to make sure their workers get a fair pay rise and some job security.
Instead, this inaction on wages feels like a kick in the shins for working Australians, and it just doesn’t add up. The Government’s plan for economic recovery relies heavily on consumer spending – but how can we spend what we don’t have?
Close to 4 million workers in Australia are in some form of insecure work.
With record numbers of Australians needing to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, what we needed from this budget was direct action to provide steady, reliable jobs.
What we got was a $17.9 billion going to big business, with no requirement to create jobs.
But we shouldn’t assume big business will line their own pockets before supporting workers. Oh, wait…yes, we should, because that’s precisely what they’ve done time and time again.
Working Australians need economic security and control over their working lives. Any government financial support given to private business should be conditional on reliable, well-paid jobs.
Working Australians deserve a certain future. We can’t get that without decisive action to address climate change.
We looked for this action at the recent Leader’s Climate Summit, and we looked for it again in this budget. Instead, we find the Morrison Government failing once again to deliver the comprehensive climate and energy plan that workers, their families and communities need.
It’s almost funny how predictable this chaotic approach to climate action is until you remember how high the stakes are. Stakes high enough that the Government is allocating $600 million to disaster relief – but where’s a credible national plan for reducing emissions?
Workers and industry need certainty on climate policy so that we can plan a managed transition to a low-carbon economy, one that protects and creates jobs and gets on with that small matter of saving the planet.
There were high hopes that this budget would finally deliver for women, and the Morrison Government is keen for you to believe that’s just what they’ve done. Spoiler – they haven’t.
To be fair, this budget does seem to acknowledge that women actually, you know… exist. Unlike the disastrous ‘bloke’s budget’ of 2020, this year sees $1.1 billion in funding promised to address women’s safety.
Sounds impressive at first, but let’s put it in perspective. $96 billion in new spending and tax measures were announced in the budget. $17.9 billion of that is going to big business. Hmmm. Less impressive.
Especially when you consider the economic setbacks women are up against, like a 31 per cent gender pay gap or a huge overrepresentation in insecure work. Or their lack of commitment to backing new laws that would strengthen women’s rights at work, as recommended in the [email protected] report.
Yeah, this budget isn’t going to cut it. We need real action to stop the widening inequality in our economic recovery – not more Government spin.