In the early months of the pandemic, almost half a million Australians were lifted out of poverty. As soon as the coronavirus supplement ended, hundreds of thousands of Australians were plunged right back.
And remember that brief period in 2020 when early childhood education and childcare centres were made free for working parents? That scheme lasted three months before it was taken away again.
So what happened?
When the Morrison Government introduced the coronavirus supplement, it massively reduced poverty in one swoop. But then he decided to bring back that poverty just as quickly by reducing then removing the supplement.
And the Government was warned that this would happen. They knew that cutting the payments would send Australians back into poverty.
The Centre for Future Work policy director Greg Jericho called out the Morrison Government for purposefully failing struggling Australians.
“Poverty isn’t a natural thing, it’s a choice. This is not a natural state of affairs,” Mr Jericho said in conversation with ACTU President Michele O’Neil.
The Coalition Government had a similar approach to childcare and early childhood education. They showed us that free childcare was indeed possible. But they intentionally refused to make it a permanent fixture.
Working parents have been coping with one of the most expensive childhood caring and education systems in the developed world.
“We don’t have to dream about this, we can look at those countries in the world who have done it,” Ms O’Neil said.
Research from The Australia Institute has demonstrated that not only do Nordic countries have higher female participation rates than Australia, but a higher proportion of women workers also participate in full time employment. It is not an accident that this is the case. Nordic countries have specifically decided to support women workers.
Morrison had no excuse. He could have permanently reduced poverty and bolstered the economy. But he has been missing once again when it comes to improving the lives of everyday workers.
But unlike Morrison, union members take action every day to improve working conditions for women and ensure all workers can earn a living wage.
Already members earn, on average, $250 more per week than non-union members.