7 October 2020
Statement: Federal Budget 2020-21
While the announcement of significant spending to stimulate jobs growth and economic recovery is welcome, we’re concerned this budget is a missed opportunity to address systemic weaknesses in our national economy exposed by the COVID-19 crisis.
Women and the lower paid have been hit hardest by the economic impact of COVID-19. Instead of recognising the gendered nature of the economic slowdown, the Budget directs many stimulus measures towards male-dominated industries and will do little to address entrenched social and gender inequality holding back our economy.
Long-term global investors like HESTA understand these persisting inequalities are systemic weaknesses in our nation’s economy that represent risks to investments and sustainable long-term economic growth.
There is ample evidence to show that applying a ‘gender lens’ to stimulus measures ensures governments maximise the effectiveness of public expenditure. It’s particularly disappointing that the Government did not look at childcare reform to broaden access to affordable, high-quality early education as this is one of the most effective ways to support the economic recovery and improve women’s workforce participation.
We are appealing to the Government to work with us and invest in overcoming these systemic weaknesses by putting in place policies and investment initiatives to support social infrastructure. This includes childcare, aged care, disability care and public and affordable housing, all of which will increase women’s workforce participation, provide further social infrastructure investment opportunities and, in turn, strengthen the economy by placing it on a more sustainable, resilient and equitable footing.
Get this right and Australia could land a ‘triple dividend’ – a more efficient acceleration of economic growth, higher long-term productivity and greater resilience to meet future challenges like our ageing population and pandemic shocks.