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2015 budget replies: ‘does it advance the equal treatment of women?’

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The Coalition’s 2015 Budget has been poorly received by various politicians, with both the Labor Party and the Greens admonishing the Abbott Government for insufficient initiative in advancing the status of women.

‘The 2015 Budget has neither the qualities or the priorities of the Australian people,’ Labor leader Bill Shorten said in his budget reply on Thursday night.

He called the Coalition’s fiscal policies a ‘hoax’ and criticised the government for a lack of vision.

The Opposition Leader asked if the Budget ‘advanced the equal treatment of women’, answering his own rhetorical device with the ominous refrain of ‘No’.

‘In just one year, this Prime Minister has gone from the staunchest defender of Paid Parental Leave, his signature scheme, to vilifying tens of thousands of women who rely upon it,’ Mr Shorten said, prompting calls of ‘shame!’ from the gallery.

Mr Shorten asserted the government was creating divisions in society with its $1 billion saving mechanism to stop women accessing both employer and government PPL: those with variously aged children, and varying jobs, who would be unable to pay for childcare.

He confirmed Labor would never support cutting family payments by $6,000 to subsidise childcare for families.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics were enshrined in Labor’s counter-budget for future job growth, with the party aiming to support women to teach these subjects.

In addition to Mr Shorten’s speech, Labor released a Women’s Budget Reply Statement on its website.

Violence against women (VAW) is a topic of concern to the ALP: a $50 million package to Family Violence Prevention Legal Services is outlined in the statement, with a further $15 million to allow domestic violence survivors to live safely in their own homes.

The ALP wants to put $8 million towards VAW accountability and prevention measures aimed at perpetrators.

The Opposition is urging the Abbott government to work with the party on VAW as a matter of urgency.

The document also acknowledges in spite of immense professional development, women are still paid 18.8% less than their male counterparts and there are gendered gaps in workforce participation which hinder the nation’s productivity.

This Women’s Budget Reply Statement highlights further policy to safeguard women’s retirement with fair superannuation and pensions.

Meanwhile, freshly-appointed Greens leader, Richard Di Natale criticised the Coalition for its stringent family tax benefit cuts, as well as $235 million worth of savings impacting on schemes providing affordable housing for domestic violence survivors.

‘The Prime Minister proudly trumpets his national security credentials but he has done nothing to address the security of women across the county who are victims of domestic violence,’ Senator Di Natale said.

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