It is greatly dispiriting that Australia’s Prime Minister- and Minister for Women- thinks that a tiny boost in income for average households resulting from the carbon tax repeal was the highlight of his government’s achievement for women in 2014. In Abbott’s view of the world, women are essentially the home-makers and secondary earners, if they earn at all, and engaged first and foremost in the micro-management of a household.
While it may not be an entirely a wrong view of how things are in many households, it is still by any measure a very narrow and limited one – and his linking of the carbon tax repeal to women’s advancement reveals a disturbing mindset about women’s aspirations as well as their real needs in terms of economic equality. In addition to the worsening gender pay gap, women’s high levels of workforce casualisation and underemployment, there is also a significant gender wealth gap which is now coming to light.
It is not altogether clear what Tony Abbott means by an average household – presumably he means a couple with children. But the most disadvantaged households fall out of this definition. Households consisting of a single mother and one or more children are at high risks of living in poverty. So the question is what would that type of household gain from the carbon tax repeal – $3 per week, $6? Clearly not very much. And for single person households including the large numbers of female age pensioners as well as those reliant on disability or unemployment payments, the carbon tax repeal could hardly be worth anything.
Then the other greatly depressing element of Tony Abbott’s claim about the carbon tax repeal is just what it is – a retrograde step in relation to action on climate change and totally out of step with international action such as the recent US-China agreement.