Budget - Consideration in Detail
Thank you for giving me the call, Madam Deputy Speaker. I need to ask which you prefer to be called: Deputy Speaker or Madam Deputy Speaker?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mrs Andrews ): I am happy with either, but thank you.
Ms RYAN: Good. I just want everyone to note that it is worth asking a woman what she wants occasionally, because I want to talk today about the Office for Women and the adverse impacts this budget has on women. I am glad to be here and I am glad to hear that list of advisory bodies and experts that those opposite think they do not need to listen to anymore. One of the things I want to talk about is the notion that, if you cannot slash an advisory body or get rid of an expert, then you can always just ignore it, like we are ignoring the Office for Women.
Tony Abbott's budget of broken promises makes savage cuts to pensions. We have been there. We know the list of cuts is long: hospitals, family payments, superannuation, education and services. All of these cuts will have a deep impact on women. For example, a single parent on the parenting payment, the majority of whom are women, will have their budgets hit by more than $3,400 a year. Industry Super Australia has stated:
The repeal of the LISC—
the low income super contribution—
will be particularly damaging to the retirement savings of women who constitute an estimated two-thirds of those eligible. Staggeringly, the abolition of the LISC will negatively impact on the retirement savings of almost one in two women.
In the aftermath of the budget, we have seen an unprecedented and dishonest attack on Australia's carers, the majority of whom are women. There are no changes to carers as a result of the budget, the Prime Minister said in question time on 16 June. This is wrong. The budget cuts the carers payment, with indexation to be reduced to CPI. This will impact on carers, the majority of whom are women. And, with women accounting for 60 per cent of GP visits, the GP tax will have a deep impact on their access to health care. As the costs mount for families, tough decisions will be made on seeking help for those families.
I went to the website of the Office for Women and I found there that the Office for Women exists:
… to ensure a whole-of-government approach is given to providing better economic and social outcomes for women.
That is what the website says. Then I went to the 'Economic Empowerment and Opportunity' part of the site, and it said:
The Australian Government is working to improve women's economic empowerment.
… … …
Women's economic empowerment is central to a strong economy and region. For example, closing the workforce participation gap between women and men could boost gross domestic product by up to 13%.
During Senate estimates, on 27 May, it was confirmed that the Office for Women, in your department of PM&C, provided advice on all relevant measures leading up to the budget. Ms McDevitt said:
For all the budget measures, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet provides advice, and, since the Office for Women is located within the department, the Office for Women has provided advice on relevant measures leading up to the budget, which could include consulting with other agencies and providing internal advice that would feed into the whole-of-department advice on budget measures.
My question in this area is: why was advice from the Prime Minister's own department ignored in the formulation of the budget? It has been the practice, for over 30 years, for federal governments to produce a women's budget statement as one element of the official budget papers. We heard a few minutes ago lots of statements, pointing the finger across the chamber about previous budgets—not the budget of 2014, which is the budget we are all here to talk about. That has been in place for 30 years in the official budget papers, but in 2014 it is not included.
My question is, given the PM is the Minister for Women and the Office for Women is in PM&C, who made the decision to cut this statement? Was the Office for Women consulted on this specific decision? Given the impact on women of this budget, why was this decision made? And I will go further, with another question. To me, as a woman, it is really concerning that this government has a mirror looking backwards. I am looking forward to doing my ironing again. I wonder if you can answer that.
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