Budget 2021: Labor says pitch to women falls short

Tanya Plibersek and Jim Chalmers listen to Opposition leader Anthony Albanese. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Tanya Plibersek and Jim Chalmers listen to Opposition leader Anthony Albanese. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Federal Labor has criticised the Morrison government budget measures on childcare, health, economic security and domestic violence to support women as "managing a political problem" and coming too little, too late.

There is more to be revealed on Tuesday's budget night, but as part of a stand-alone 50-page Budget Statement on Women there is a $354 million package to improve health outcomes for women and girls, a reported $680 million revamp of domestic violence prevention measures and $1.7 billion package to make childcare more affordable particularly for parents of multiple children.

As well, the more than $10 billion aged care package - which is yet be detailed - is expected to assist female employment and 10,000 single parents are forecast to benefit from a budget housing package targeted around first home buyers.

"We hear today, that the government intends to invest some money in women's health services," Labor's Treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers told the ABC's Insiders.

"Obviously, we want to see adequate investment in health services for Australian women. For too long now, some of these areas have been neglected, for much of the last eight years of this Coalition government.

"This Morrison government sees Australia's women as a political problem to be managed, and not a genuine area for investment, to undo some of the damage of the last eight years in this coming budget."

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The package focused on women's economic and physical security is a direct result of a series of shocking allegations about the treatment of women in politics in recent months, including the alleged rape of former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, and criticism last year's budget did not do enough for women.

The four-year $354 million package to improve health outcomes for women and girls includes $100 million for cervical and breast cancer screening, $96 million for new genetic testing procedures and more than $47 million to support the mental health and wellbeing of new and expectant parents.

There is also additional funding for medical support for IVF, endometriosis initiatives and eating disorder programs while new drugs to prevent women going into premature labour will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Announcing the measures, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the health measures such as the support for premature birth were as "simple as saving lives and and protecting lives for mums and bubs".

And he spoke of the need for mental health support surround birth.

"We know that perinatal mental health can have an enormous toll," Mr Hunt told reporters in Melbourne.

"In many ways, it is still a hidden a condition and we have to help support it, but bring it into the light."

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will be delivering stand-alone 50-page budget statement on women on Tuesday night. It is expected to address the significant gender parity in superannuation savings and outline additional funding designed to keep women safe from domestic violence.

"It not only details the economic impact of COVID on women, but also the details around the individual measures of women's economic security, women's safety as well as women's health," he told Sky News on Sunday.

Women's safety was a key priority for the Morrison government, according to Mr Frydenberg, who stated the current rate of domestic violence is Australia was "heartbreaking" and "not good enough".

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This story Labor says the budget pitch to women falls short first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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