Re-instatement of the Women’s Budget Statement in Australia? Bring it on, but consider men too

In an earlier blog post I briefly examined a number of pro-feminist organisations in Australia, noting (in part) the extent of public funding received by each. My post on the Domestic Violence Industry also identified another substantial sump for both government funding and private donations.

Despite the fact that I only scratched the surface in relation to identifying such organisations, the extent of state and federal funding involved already amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone could tally up all the public funds that are directed towards the welfare of women/girls? And then go through a similar exercise in relation to funding for men/boys. To what extent do you think the two amounts would be comparable?

Well, until 2013 the Australian federal government did something a little similar. It was called the Women’s Budget Statement. I’m not sure why it was terminated, but perhaps it was found that the data it provided was unreliable and/or otherwise unhelpful in comparision to the annual cost of compiling the Statement. Another possibility was that it identified so much expenditure directed towards women that it’s value as a sop to the feminist lobby was eclipsed by the potential it posed for an angry voter backlash.

In Wales (U.K) someone did the maths and found that women’s groups/causes were handed 77 times as much funding as were men’s groups/causes.

By way of background here are some links to historical information concerning the Women’s Budget Statement:

http://apo.org.au/files/Resource/grb_sharpbroomhill_australia_updf_final_copy_copy.pdf

http://www.gender-budgets.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46&Itemid=112

http://apo.org.au/research/budget-2014-15-gender-lens

https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/05_2013/dfh035_13_budget_tagged.pdf (Women’s Budget Highlights as mentioned in this article)

What prompted me to write this post today was the publication of ‘Gender neutral policies are a myth: why we need a women’s budget‘, by academic Miranda Stewart. I would recommend taking a moment now to read that article and the readers comments that follow it (or at least those that were not removed by the moderator).

Miranda thinks that the community would benefit from the re-instatement of the Women’s Budget Statement. The author justifies this gynocentric bias, at least in part, on the existence of the much-discredited gender pay gap. I believe it would be far more equitable and effective (as a policy development tool) if there was one combined document that considered the impact of federal expenditure on both men and women.

Another point of difference between what Miranda has in mind, and what I envisage, relates to the nature of the information provided. Miranda wants to see an assessment of the economic impact, on women, of a wide range of government policies. I am not convinced how accurately such impacts could be assessed, nor to the extent it could be kept free of the gender bias and ideological tweaking that is now rampant across the Australia public service.

I would be satisfied with something simpler, merely a listing of specific programs or allocations that were directed towards (or could be determined to benefit) alternately either boys/men or girls/women. This in itself would be a difficult task, as many such allocations are hidden, for example, deep within departmental budgets.

In other cases, allocations which would appear to be gender-neutral could be determined on closer analysis to strongly favor one gender in relation to the other. An example of this would be funding for the Australian Human Rights Commission.

This suggestion is noted in another article (refer point 5), although I think Claire Moore, Shadow Minister for Women, probably has different priorities in mind.

So where would one make a start on creating such a spreadsheet? Well I’ve already mentioned the various organisations listed in my blog post about misandric agencies. We could expand that initial list by considering each of the members of the Equality Rights Alliance, Australia’s largest network of organisations with an interest in advancing women’s equality. From then on it would be a matter of relentless burrowing through budget papers seeking relevant allocations.

The intention would be to combine the total funding received by each organisation and compare that figure with total annual funding for boys/men’s groups and issues. Although larger in magnitude I imagine that the women’s budget would be somewhat easier to compile given that there are specific ministries and sections with agencies that deal with women’s issues.

I would wager that there is absolutely no chance that the expenditure ratio would match the ratio of males/females in the Australian population, with an overwhelming bias towards the welfare of girls/women.

As an aside bear in mind that men, both individually and through the corporate entities they own, contribute far more than 50% of the government’s income. Click across to this blog post and scroll down to ‘taxation’ to see some relevant sources. Would it not be more equitable if the default setting was that half of government expenditure was subsequently utilised to support the interests/welfare of men and boys?

I believe that such a process of financial analysis would not only identify a massive and inequitable gendered imbalance in government funding, but it would also identify enormous waste and duplication. I wonder just how many indulgences like this are out there waiting to be uncovered?

If I am correct and there is a substantial favouring of females over males, how can this be justified? Barring the absence of incontrovertible evidence of overwhelmingly greater need, across the board, this would be indicative of neither gender equality nor prudent governance.

Certainly priority should be given to the area/s of greatest genuine need. And of course there will be areas where women’s needs are greater than mens (and vice versa). Thus note that I am not suggesting for a moment that one would seek to religiously apply a 50% split to every government program in Australia.

But humour me and suppose that a detailed and objective analysis did find that vastly more support was accorded to women/girls across all of government? And that meanwhile funding was urgently required to meet the demonstrated needs of men/boys?

Let’s find out. Otherwise, sorry, not good enough. Not by a long shot.

See also:

How the Australian Budget process is failing women (2 April 2019). Apparently we need “Gender responsive budgeting” and “women’s economic needs demand more frequent and intense intervention”. Yes, and for men/boys … oh, let’s not go there right?

Women’s Economic Security Statement (19 November 2018)

“A priority for the Australian Government is to create the right economic settings for women to help them participate in work, increase their economic security and give them meaningful choices about their lives.”

The Queensland government produced a Women’s Budget Statement (6 July 2017)

Women’s group call for gender aware budget (22 May 2017) Australia. They are not calling for a “gender aware budget”, they are calling for a female-aware budget … no mention whatsoever is made of looking at the impact of the budget on men. More of the same here and here.

Gender Lens on the Budget 2017/18 (undated) Australia. We need something like this to look at the impact of the budget on men (shame this one didn’t address both genders)

Interview with Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop (24 January 2017) The financial analysis I spoke of earlier would need to encompass foreign aid, which is increasingly gender-focused towards women/girls.

Only men pay taxes (8 October 2016) Video. On the issue of the gendered impact of the current taxation regime see also this blog post

Research finds that as a group, only men pay tax (8 September 2016) Wouldn’t it be interesting to run a rigorous financial analysis here in Australia to see if the same pattern was evident?

Despite the rhetoric, this election fails the feminist test (28 June 2016), by Eva Cox

Women left behind by a budget that does little to redress inequality, by Eva Cox (5 May 2016) Well if women were left behind in the Budget Eva, what say you about men and their issues?

The Distribution of Income and Fiscal Incidence by Age and Gender: Some Evidence from New Zealand (2013)