Morrison Aims to Win Back Women Voters in Australia Budget

Prime Minister Scott Morrison sought to use Tuesday’s budget to regain lost ground with Australian women following his bungled responses to sexism and rape allegations.

The government’s fiscal blueprint included a A$3.4 billion Women’s Budget Statement that sought to address the safety, economic security and status of women in Australia.

The government is “committing to a comprehensive range of programs that will support more women to work in a greater array of industries and occupations,” the statement said. It also aims to “open up entrepreneurial and leadership opportunities creating pathways for our future women leaders.”

Morrison’s standing with women plunged earlier this year after he struggled to grasp the significance of the alleged rape of a female government staff member in parliament house and deal with reports of sexism inside government ranks.

“One in four women experience violence from a current or former partner. This must stop,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in his budget speech outlining an additional A$1.1 billion in spending to protect women and children. “We must do more to end all forms of violence against women and children.”

The government is also providing A$20.5 million to prevent and respond to workplace sexual harassment, describing this as central to improving women’s safety and economic security.

Among others areas of spending:

  • An additional A$1.9 billion in measures to support women’s economic security
  • A A$1.7 billion investment in childcare that’s designed to increase affordability for low- and middle-income families. The government estimates 250,000 families will be better off and it will allow more women a chance to work
  • Removing the A$450 per month minimum income threshold under which employers don’t have to make guaranteed pension payments -- a move the government expects will improve economic security in retirement for around 200,000 women
  • Establishing the Family Home Guarantee to assist eligible single parents with dependent children to enter the housing market sooner with a deposit of as little as 2% of the purchase price. The program is primarily expected to aid women
  • Providing an additional A$38.3 million to the Women’s Leadership and Development Program that funds projects assisting women into leadership roles and improve outcomes
  • Investing A$351.6 million to deliver diverse initiatives that cover maternal, sexual and reproductive health, ageing, chronic conditions, preventative health, and mental health

Frydenberg, in his speech, also announced a program to help women break into non-traditional trades with training support for 5,000 places. The government will also provide 2,700 places in Indigenous girls academies to help them finish school and enter the workforce, he said.

There will also be more STEM scholarships for women, in partnership with industry, the treasurer said.

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