On Tuesday 6 October, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg handed down the federal budget for 2020-21, after it was delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The budget is being touted by the government as the nation’s path out of the coronavirus induced worst recession in three decades, with more than $500 billion allocated to the task.
In this recession, women have lost jobs, hours and income at a faster rate than men. Amidst this unprecedented wave of spending and tax cuts, many analysts and observers, including this union, have identified and criticised the unfathomable omission of support measures directed towards women.
The think-tank, Per Capita, has been one of the voices criticising the government’s failure to address the issues facing women – identifying the measly $240 million commitment to women, as part of their “Women’s Economic Security Statement” as 0.038% of the total budget deficit.
“In the midst of a recession, this budget is a disappointment,” says IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam.
“It does nothing to advance universal access to early childhood education – an investment in our children that pays for itself as well as the strongest policy lever for women’s workforce participation. It’s a missed opportunity to inject funds into TAFE.
"There’s a lack of support for universities while fees for humanities degrees are doubling.
"There is nothing for the arts, nothing for social housing, nothing to spur wages growth, and nothing for those aged 36 to retirement.
"We had hoped for a fairer, longer term vision.”
Labor’s budget reply, delivered on Thursday 8 October by the Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, has been warmly welcomed by the IEU.
Labor’s six billion dollar commitment to make early childhood education and care affordable to Australian families provides a clear roadmap towards universal access to early education. This would provide certainty and stability for children, their families, early childhood workers, and the broader society.
This is a welcome commitment from the Opposition, in light of the glaring omission from the government to provide any additional funding to this crucial sector that has been so hard hit by the pandemic.
The benefits of early education can be seen immediately and returns continue as those children become adults.
Recurrent and ongoing funding commitments will lead to improved service viability, planning, job security and quality.
Funding early childhood education and care is an investment I the future of our children, families, communities and the country as a whole – it’s time for that to be recognised and funded appropriately.
Early childhood education and care should be seen as an essential service, and deserves universal and ongoing funding certainty.
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