Need convincing about the value of a women’s budget statement? It’s hard to go past new evidence presented to the Senate examining the combined impact of the government’s proposed tax cuts, the new childcare subsidy and family payments on women.
The effective marginal tax rate for women with children would remain as high as 95 per cent after all three stages of the tax cuts and the changes to child care benefits due to begin on July 1 set in.
By way of contrast the proposed tax cuts will reportedly benefit 1.894 million men compared to 767,000 women.
Men earn far more than women do. Yes, more men work full-time than women do but that does not explain the income differential. A substantial pay gap still exists even when men and women work the same hours, in the same fields, in the same roles.
Many women aren’t able to work as much as they would like because of issues including the cost of childcare and the expectation that they will fill the gap at home, not to mention pregnancy discrimination which impacts one in two women. The fact women can’t access full-time employment to the same extent men do is not always a choice.
Women still undertake the lion’s share of the caring and the duties on the home-front. Women are the ones who take extended breaks from work to care for young children and men aren’t encouraged or supported to do the same, even when they want to.
“It was extraordinary that second earners went back to work full time at all,” Professor Miranda Stewart told Fairfax Media of her analysis. “The reality has been that a proportion of women do go back to work, and the family is essentially bearing the net cost, unless they can use grandparents or friends for care or a cheaper option such as family day care.”
Making childcare more universal by removing the means-testing or using the mother’s income as the determinate, would be one place to start.