Inequality in Federal Economic Response
Ms WELLS (Lilley) (11:50): I understand that the custom around the traps around here is that in your first term you should write a book. After this week, I think I've found my topic: 'Men of the Liberal and National parties explain things to me'.
Mr Entsch interjecting—
I will add you to a chapter! I have come from the House, where the member for New England, with his innate, extraordinary, telepathic ability to look into the hearts and minds of 30,000 protesters at the Black Lives Matter march in Brisbane, explained to me that, actually, all of us only acted out of a selfish, innate, millennial desire to virtue signal, and that was all there was behind 30,000 people turning out to protest about the issue of Indigenous incarceration in this country.
Earlier this week, Senator Gerard Rennick, over in the Senate, helpfully explained to me and the women of Australia that actually all of our children just wanted to be at home with a parent, and that was where they were best off. He actually said, 'Dorothy didn't say, "There's no place like child care"; she said, "There's no place like home."' I think the fact that he has used a 1939 movie to incite the next wave of government policy tells us all we need to know about the forward-looking, modern nature of this Liberal-National coalition.
Finally, Mathias Cormann—who will pop up again in my book—has been telling women to be grateful for the 13.9 per cent gender pay gap and some of the highest part-time work rates for women in the OECD.
Men of the Liberal and National parties explain things to me. It seems that there has been no gendered analysis or even input from women for the Morrison government's economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Just look at the Expenditure Review Committee: a team of five men, the youngest of whom is 48 years old. Is it any wonder that women and young people are being left behind when they have absolutely no voice at the senior levels of this government?
The majority of frontline workers during this pandemic have been women: they are supermarket workers, they are healthcare workers, they are cleaners, they are teachers and they are early educators. Research put out this week by the Australia Institute has found that the number of women employed fell by 5.3 per cent, in comparison to 3.9 per cent for men. The number of hours worked fell by 11.5 per cent for women but 7.5 per cent for men. And despite the fact that the government and Senator Cormann—I told you he'd come up again—have found a $60 billion estimates variation, which is a form of government wording that Sir Humphrey Appleby would be proud of, a $60 billion 'estimates variation', they have not released any funding to support the specific way that COVID-19 has impacted women economically.
In Brazil, they have announced cash grants for single mothers. In Canada, they have specifically supported female entrepreneurs. In India, they have released grants for women. In Turkey, they have increased social benefits specifically for women. And the US—even the US—has released grants for women's business centring on education, training and advising. We have seen early access to superannuation opened up, which is apparently a measure to support people who have become unemployed or fallen on hard times, but it will directly impact women, who are already on average likely to retire with 47 per cent less superannuation than men. We've also seen appalling snap decisions in child care that are nothing short of a shambles: supposedly free child care one day, leaving childcare centres themselves to operate on half their revenue, and childcare workers being stripped of JobKeeper the next. First off the dinghy: the 91 per cent of early childcare educators who are women, of whom 40 per cent are aged under 29. We've seen women excluded from JobKeeper because they did not meet the casual employment requirements, even though women disproportionately engage in casual work, and we've seen women in small business, our sole traders, excluded altogether. To bring me back to my upcoming book, 'Men in the Liberal and National parties explain things to me', I think Gerard Rennick said it best: 'We're not in Kansas anymore.'