Women ignored in federal budget

The driving force behind the Women in Tourism movement has accused the federal government of gender bias and claims its October budget ignored the female-dominated workforce in the holiday industry.

Women, particularly those aged over 35, were big losers in the budget, which labour experts say overlooked the childcare needs of women.

Holly Galbraith, who formed Women in Tourism five years ago to “restore some balance to leadership in the industry”, said women came away with little from the budget, and women in tourism with even less.

“The tourism industry and the women working in it have been left behind by the government,’’ Ms Galbraith said.

“When we look at the construction industry for example , it is nowhere near the hardest hit sector during the COVID pandemic but it the best funded out of the budget.

“Industries such as tourism aren’t funded anywhere near as much and that definitely has an impact on women because the tourism workforce is made up of at least 60 per cent women.

“Tourism has been hit really hard by COVID but there doesn’t seem to have been a lot of assistance put out in the budget to help it.

“While the Government is spending money in sectors dominated by men they are not spending money in sectors where women have large numbers and that is going to have a big effect on the lives of women.

“You would hope it is not intentional but this is the problem when a government is led by a man surrounded by men who think the same – you don’t get the influence of other people’s experiences and insight.

“If we look at the Tourism Restart Taskforce that has just been formed I’m sure they are doing fantastic work but what we need to look at is the fact that committee is very white male dominated – and they clearly had a lack of female and ethnically diverse leaders in tourism to choose from.

“I don’t think the taskforce fully represents the industry.”

The federal budget was roundly criticised, with University of NSW professor of economics Richard Holden telling the Sydney Morning Herald it was “striking there was so little in the budget for women”.

“I think childcare is the most notable thing out of that,” he said.

“We know that women have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and that’s often a consequence of additional care responsibilities in their families.”

The federal government temporarily provided free childcare during the pandemic but later withdrew that support.

University of Sydney professor of gender and employment relations Marian Baird said older women who lost jobs received no attention in the federal budget and the failure to boost childcare was a “massive oversight”.

Australian Services Union NSW branch secretary Natalie Lang told the Herald the budget had neglected women “from the cradle to the grave”. She said women needed access to affordable childcare to take advantage of wage subsidies for workers under the age of 35.

Holly Galbraith said Women in Tourism was born after she found herself sitting at “yet another tourism annual general meeting where the board members on stage were all men bar one and the audience was predominantly women”.

“While we have a lot of women in the tourism industry the number of men in key positions is disproportionate,” she said.

“I feel the federal budget ignored women and my hope is that Women in Tourism will raise awareness of the inequalities in the industry and eventually bring about more balance.”

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