By Zoë Norton Lodge
Now, one of the hardest things about the Budget coming out is that to really get our heads around what’s being promised for women, someone has to read the damn thing.
Have you seen the Budget? It’s like reading Gone With the Wind four times!
Or, you can read the government’s Women’s Budget Snapshot, which I guess is like the Spark notes version.
Although, it’s a bit harder to tell precisely what’s going on these days. We used to have a Women’s Budget Statement. A 300-page analysis of the impact of the Budget on women.
It was a great Australian initiative copied in no less than 90 countries, abolished in 2014 by Tony Abbott as part of his glittering legacy as minister for women.
Having said that, all women want is a seat at the table, right?
And in the Budget lockup women’s groups got two seats! For two whole women focussed women! Two! #blessed.
So what’s in it for the ladies?
As the analysis rolls in, the consensus seems to be that there isn’t really much in it for women.
So once again, I’ve sadly rolled up my “It’s a Budget for Women!!!” banner, and put it away in my forgotten hobbies box, along with the etiquette books, activewear and crocheted tampons (they could all come in handy someday).
My learned colleagues of the female variety have already made some major criticisms of the Budget when it comes to women.
There is no increase to Newstart, nothing for carers or parents and nothing to improve affordable housing. Welfare changes could also see women disadvantaged.
The flattening out of the tax system isn’t great for women either because the major winners here are high income earners, and, well, we know who they are.
What about a few more crumbs?
Frankly, I think there’s a couple more places the government could have thrown a few crumbs to the daughters of our big brown land.
Many have noted the generous $3.4 million the government has put towards addressing the lack of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Wondering if that’s a lot of money? Well it’s five times less than what’s going to the children’s science museum.
That’s right, $15 million is going to Canberra’s Questacon.
Don’t get me wrong, Questacon is my third favourite Canberra attraction, after Cockington Green and the Kingston oval where Bob Hawke got hit in the face by a cricket ball.
But I do think it’s a bit weird to fund young girls getting all inspired by science by Questacon, dangling a juicy STEM career in front of them, only to have them grow up to learn there are structural reasons they can’t get a job.
A serious beef with the Budget
The Budget found $3.89 million for Beef Australia 2021, a beef expo to be held in Rockhampton in 2021.
Now, nothing against Rocky’s beef expo, but if the government really wanted to support women they would look south of the border to the NSW town of Casino, where a rival beef week is held every year, also in May.
The difference though?
In Casino they elect the annual Beef Queen.
Casino Beef Queen
Now look, I’m not going to sit here and rank the beef expos of Australia like some sort of armchair abattoir arbiter — but if it’s going to have a line in the Federal Budget… Come on! Throw us a bloody T-bone!
There are a few wins
Let’s talk about where women are winning.
There’s increased funding for organisations dedicated to combating violence against women as well as funding for services used in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
And I can’t fault the government here, women famously hate both these things.
But I did a little digging and found there were a few other Budget items which I think really benefit women that some major media outlets overlooked.
All the ant stuff. Who likes ants? Not women!
A special groceries court to arbitrate disputes between supermarkets and suppliers will receive $800,000. And we all know women love groceries and Judge Judy #nailedit.
And $4.3 million for the postal ombudsman… what better way to catch all the unsolicited dick pics we receive in snail mail.
One thing that is excellent for women is the $38.3 million over three years which will be spent on fixing the census.
This is fantastic.
Maybe with better data future governments will be more aware of the persisting existence of women and will adjust their budgets accordingly.
And of course the real winner from this entire budget was of course Julie Bishop’s dress because nothing says, “I have somewhere better to be” like blue sequins.
Zoë Norton Lodge is a writer and comedian.