Transcript: Jenny McAllister on Estimates, Women's Budget Statement and the Stolen Generations

8.00am | May 23, 2017






SUBJECT/S: Estimates, Women’s Budget Statement, Stolen Generations

SENATOR MCALLISTER: For some years, I have been asking officials in the (inaudible) agencies of government how they are approaching the challenges that are faced by Australian women, and on every occasion the answer has been extremely disappointing. Which is to say that this government has abandoned any pretence at all at serious examination of the different impacts of their economic decisions on women.

Over the last couple of days we had a report released by the National Foundation for Australian Women, that indicates that some Australian women would receive effective marginal tax rates of as much as 100 percent, when faced with a combination of measures in this budget. I asked Minister Cash about this concern last night in Estimates.  Her answer was this “Yes, we’ve commissioned modelling on the combined impact of tax and transfer measures in the budget on Australian women. And no, I am not going to release it.”

This Government is sitting on secret modelling that tells us the impact of this budget on Australian women, but they are unwilling to release it. There are a whole range of measures that Labor has concerns about. When you lower the HECS repayment threshold to just $42,000 a year, the net impact of that is much more significant on women than men. In fact 60% of the additional payers under this change will be women. When you apply an additional Medicare levy on the lower income parts of the population, because women, on the whole, overwhelmingly earn less than men, this is an impact that disproportionally impacts on women. When you remove temporary deficit levy, who does that benefit? Well, it certainly doesn’t benefit Australian women. They only comprise only 25% of the payees of the temporary deficit levy. This is a tax break that benefits Australian men at the exclusion of Australian women.

These are all elements of government economic decision-making that impact on women differentially to men. What we need is a transparent process so that these impacts can be assessed. Under Labor, and indeed for decades, there has been a process at every budget, where a publication has been produced that assessed the impact of budget measures on Australian women. Tony Abbot cancelled that Women’s Budget Statement, and Minister Cash refuses to reinstate it. Even worse, she is now sitting on secret modelling she refuses to release, and she directs us to ask questions about Treasury, to Treasury about this question. I can tell the Minister and the public that I will be asking those questions about Treasury, because if we do have evidence about the impact of the budget on Australian women, the Australian people deserve to know.

JOURNALIST: How many people, how many women do you expect fall in to that category of 100% marginal tax rate?

MCALLISTER: We don’t know and this is part of the problem. It ought to be transparent how many people are affected by budget measures, and the ways they are affected. If there is a cohort of women facing 100% effective marginal tax rate, it would be good to know how many of them there are. If Treasury has that information they ought to release it. These are very serious questions for the Minister to answer.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that the members of the Stolen Generation should be awarded compensation for past suffering?

MCALLISTER: We are coming up to a very significant anniversary of recognition of a great Australian tragedy, and a stain on our nation’s history. Members of the Stolen Generation are calling for examination of compensation payments and options to bring that into effect, and I support that (inaudible).