The Australian budget for 2023 was announced by the Albanese government last Tuesday, providing a historic surplus that surprised many.
The 2023 Federal budget recorded a surplus of $4.2 billion, with a predicted deficit of $13.9 billion.
The budget will be allocating initiatives to advancing women’s economic opportunities and ending violence against women and children.
The Albanese government also promised to address inequality for women in every aspect from health to housing to safety to pay.
With that in mind, an economist from RMIT University said the 2023 Federal budget will accelerate progress towards gender equality.
Dr. Leonora Risse, Senior Lecturer in Economics at RMIT University, said that the government expands a gender lens across the 2023 Federal budget more broadly.
“It reports that key policy measures were subject to gender impact assessments, and this is reflected throughout the Budget documents,” she said.
One informative example of applying a gender lens is the budget’s analysis of JobKeeper, which recognises that women comprise of the most recipients over the age of 55 who will benefit from the additional support.
Risse also said that the 2023 Federal budget recognises that men remain the main beneficiaries of government investment in apprenticeships programs and has emphasised that the Australian Skills Guarantee will add more initiatives to address gender inequality issues in apprenticeships.
She said that the gender lensing approach complements the approach of the Victorian Government, which already has a Gender Responsive Budgeting Unit established in the Victorian Treasury. Victoria has been the leading jurisdiction on this best practice initiative, she added.
Additionally, Risse said that instead of departments asking “what’s in it for me?” in the budget, they should be really asking “what’s in the collective good for the economy and society?”
Because of the high inflationary landscape, the Australian government needed to restrain its overall spending for the sake of the economy, while targeting its cost-of-living relief to essential household items among the most financially vulnerable, Risse said.
She said there is a valid concern that additional financial support will add fuel to the inflation fire, but this cost-of-living relief can be considered as a protective cloak to shield the people who are “already closest to the flame.”
“The fact that this support is targeted towards essential items among low-income groups, rather than a broad-based cash handout, and can be delivered in instalments over time rather than a lump-sum, takes the edge off these inflationary risks,” Risse explained.