Introduction to the Gender Lens on the May 2023 Budget
The second Albanese Budget builds on the initiatives introduced in the “bread and butter” budget from October 2022. Women’s economic equality was a priority last year, with changes proposed to childcare and paid parental leave (PPL) to enable economic activity. These measures come into force in July 2023, although some of the design issues around the proposed extension of PPL are yet to be finalised. This year the concerns of women are recognised across portfolios and the Women’s Budget Paper presented a range of evidence to support the need for action.
NFAW welcomes the welfare reforms that include support for single parents, the unemployed, energy fee relief, wage increases for aged care workers (the majority of whom are women), investment in Medicare for those on low-incomes, increased rent assistance, increased investment in housing and help to transition to clean energy. However we note that these changes amount to less than 2 per cent of the welfare budget and have only a small impact on living standards and poverty.
But the opportunity to reform the Stage 3 Income Tax cuts and apply a gendered lens has not been taken. Our analysis of revenue shows that a disproportionate amount of the projected growth in tax receipts comes from women, who will receive a much lower share of the proposed tax cuts.
NFAW believes that the Government should undertake gender analysis of the Stage 3 Tax cuts as a critical priority, in view of the scale of the reform to ensure a more equitable distribution of income in the Australian community. A gender analysis of the Stage 3 Tax cuts shows that :
- The plan will deliver $39 billion over 4 years to those earning over $200,000 per annum, two thirds of whom are men (PBO, 2023).
- The full cost of $69 billion dwarfs the $14 billion cost of living package to support the most disadvantaged.
- The $9000 annual decrease in tax for those earning over $200,000 a year Is more than double the increase in payments to eligible single parents who earn under $30,000 a year.
NFAW is positive about the Government’s women’s agenda but more needs to be done. The only way to ensure funding for the growing cost of essential services and to address poverty is to increase revenue. The Government needs to lead the public debate on tax reform, including reviewing the Stage 3 Tax cuts.
In addition to the authors named on individual papers, NFAW would like to thank the following advisers for their contribution to the 2023-24 Gender lens on the Budget.
Dr Mary Crawford
Dr Kathy MacDermott
Professor Helen Hodgson
Chair Social Policy Committee
Marie Coleman AO PSM
Advisor to Social Policy Committee
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Authorised by the National Foundation for Australian Women, Canberra: President Ms Jane Madden.