A lot of hope is resting on the upcoming budget after the Treasurer reaffirmed that fiscal strategy will take a backseat as economic recovery becomes the focal point for this year.
This budget is expected to embody a number of things, from being the first genuine care economy budget, to one focused on lifting the number of people employed while ensuring pay conditions are turbo charged.
But, as the government moves to boost the unemployment rate, economists are urging the deployment of a gender lens in assessing the viability of all upcoming policies.
“Placing a gender lens on the budget recognises that men and women tend to work in different industries and take on different roles within households and society, meaning that a policy can have a different impact on men and women even if it’s not intended to be gender-specific,” said RMIT lecturer in economics Dr Leonora Risse.
Young people, too, are expected to take centre stage on 11 May, with economists arguing young Aussies will need immense support as they bear the brunt of the billions of dollars’ worth pandemic-induced economic load.
Arguing the need for investments in strategies that create real jobs for young people, such as funding for graduate jobs and employment pathways, Dr Kathryn Daley warned of the risks of long-term unemployment.
“Youth unemployment remains high, and the rate isn’t decreasing as quickly as the government would have hoped,” said Dr Daley, senior lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies.
“Long-term youth unemployment increases the risk of future unemployment. Today’s youth will be the ones who pay off our high national debt, but they cannot do it if they are un- or underemployed.”
Last week, as he delivered his pre-budget speech, Josh Frydenberg said that in order to fix the budget deficit, Australia must first fix the economy, which means reducing the unemployment rate to below 5 per cent.
“Just as recently as the mid-year economic and fiscal update in December last year, we thought the unemployment rate would be 7.5 per cent, it is now at 5.6 per cent.”
“That means 200,000 more Australians are in work, and that can improve the budget bottom line by around $5 billion because you have $3 billion less in welfare payments going out and $2 billion more in revenue through taxes coming in,” the Treasurer said.
Despite Mr Frydenberg’s efforts to please the masses, shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers didn’t wait long to question the government’s ability to deliver on its promises in the absence of actual policy announcements, saying “they fall short of their rhetoric again and again”.
“What matters with the Morrison government is not what they announce in speeches but what they actually deliver… Of course, they should be more ambitious on full employment, we’ve been saying that all along,” Mr Chalmers said.
“But they don’t have a credible plan to achieve it.”
One thing, however, is certain as we approach 11 May – Mr Frydenberg is expected to splash a lot of cash to repair the economy.
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Article by Maja Garaca Djurdjevic on nestegg.com.au