Short sighted Federal budget fails to provide meaningful long-term benefits for Australians

Wednesday 30 March 2022

The Morrison Government’s pre-election budget fails to address the long-term challenges facing Australians and doesn’t provide sustainable solutions to assist those struggling with the cost of living.

Professionals Australia CEO, Jill McCabe, said that after two years of crisis and difficult economic times, Australians needed a budget that delivered real and sustainable measures to combat the increasing cost of living, and a decade long decline in real wages and growing job insecurity – factors that are impacting adversely on all workers, including those in the professions.

“While spending cash on short term one-off payments such as the small cut in the petrol excise and modest one-off payments to low-income Australians, the Federal budget measures fail to address the full cost of living pressures faced by Australian families now and into the future.

“With inflation expected to continue to rise, this budget does not provide lasting relief to families dealing with the spiralling cost of living. It doesn’t reduce the cost of groceries, power, rent, education, health, and of course housing.

“While inflation is expected to grow and reach over 4 per cent in 2021/22, wages growth is predicted to be less than CPI at 2.75 per cent, so workers will fall even further behind.

Ms McCabe also said the budget failed to acknowledge a decade of historically low wage growth – as well as the fact previously predicted wage increases have not materialised, with strong doubt that they will eventuate in the future.

“This budget doesn’t address the significant decline in real wages - nor the troubling growth of insecure employment over the past ten years. It doesn’t demonstrate how predicted wage increases would flow through to workers who are reliant on awards, including employee pharmacists, or to workers who are engaged in precarious forms of employment and are on individual contracts such as IT workers.

While acknowledging increased investment in infrastructure, manufacturing and digital initiatives, Ms McCabe said that there was still insufficient investment in the skills of engineers, scientists, ICT professionals, pharmacists, and other technical professions.

“Once again, this budget misses an extraordinary opportunity to build on Australia’s dynamic STEM sector, which already contributes $330 billion to the national economy and could lock in long-term growth and good quality jobs as Australia emerges from the pandemic’s economic downturn.

Ms McCabe said that the Federal budget didn’t provide effective measures to address the gender pay gap or to improve women’s participation in industries like engineering, science, and information technology.

“Women working in the STEM sector face a gender pay gap of 22 per cent and comprise just 29 per cent of the STEM workforce. This budget contains little to make STEM workplaces fairer and more equitable for women.

“We sincerely hope the next Federal Government commits to measures that seek to genuinely address the long-term cost of living pressures and low wages, invests in STEM professions to unlock future economic growth and strongly commits to improving gender equity across Australia’s workplaces.”

While welcoming funding to prevent violence against women and supports for women’s health care, Ms McCabe said this investment was very modest and a much stronger focus was required on social infrastructure such as education, health and housing and a fairer and more inclusive Australia.

Media contact: Darren Rodrigo – 0414 783 405