Economics Report, November 2018

By Melanie O’Toole

NCWQ Economics Adviser

Sanitary Products Tax Will Cease

In the third quarter, Australian States and Territories finally committed to ending the 2001 GST charge on sanitary products such as tampons, menstrual caps and sanitary pads after intense community lobbying over this discriminatory tax.  Queensland women according to Government sources earned $1,318 on average, in a full-time working week in November 2016, compared to $1,578 for men, resulting in a 16.4% gender pay tax.[1]  Discriminatory taxes like the sanitary products one contributes to the further financial disadvantage of girls and women.  For more background on the Governments’ commitment to end the sanitary tax, see the following link – https://womensagenda.com.au/latest/tampon-tax-put-an-end-to-it/

Housing Affordability & Renting

Housing affordability still remains an issue for women.  Countless stories are shared within our networks of women couch surfing, and on waiting lists to access subsidised housing.  Many of these women are on low incomes, and some have escaped domestic violence. The issue of public housing will continue to rise.  According to the last consensus, there are 3.7 million Australians over 65 years old.  Within the next 40 years, one in four Australians will form part of this demography; appropriately 8.7 million Australians over the age of 65 years. Each year, Anglicare Australia’s Rental Affordability Snapshot analyses the accessibility of the private rental market for low income earners.  In its March report, 67,365 properties listed for rent on the open market, there were only 833 rental properties in Australia considered affordable and appropriate for single pensioners.  This trend is likely to be exacerbated when the Federal Government’s National Rental Affordability Scheme ends in 2026.[2]

The Queensland State Government has launched a state-wide consultation campaign on private housing rentals.  If readers wish to make a submission on their rental experiences and ideas for reform, submissions are due with the Department of Housing and Public Works by close of business, Friday 30 November 2018.  See the following website for details:  https://www.yoursayhpw.engagementhq.com/submission-renting-in-qld

Employment for Mature-aged Workers

Accessing and securing employment for mature workers still remains a problem in our communities. A number of job seekers in this category have revealed unconscious bias by recruiters, supervisors and industries in their recruitment practices.  This claim is supported by the following example.  Census figures from 2016 show only 15 % of accommodation and food service employees were aged over 50 years.  The Queensland State Government has stepped in and provided funding to the Queensland Tourism Industry Council to address this problem.[3]

Established in 1813, the Benevolent Society, one of Australia’s oldest charities has launched it’s “Every Age Counts” campaign (www.everyagecounts.org.au) to highlight the concerns of older Australians and the ongoing and discriminatory attitudes towards older Australians.[4]  In its research work, over a quarter (29%)  of its survey respondents told the Benevolent Society they had been turned down for a job because of their age, while 14% said they had been denied a promotion at work due to their age. These results are not new and mirror those of previous studies undertaken in Australia and elsewhere.  For example, the “Willing to Work” National Inquiry, Australian Human Rights Commission 2016.  With Australia facing a growing ageing population of one in four Australians will be aged 65 or more by 2064, more needs to be done to tackle this discriminatory issue of ageism in our economy and workforces.  It not only hurts the individual, but it hurts our economy in not utilising the skills, attributes and life experiences of older Australians.

[1] Queensland State Government’s Women’s Budget Statement 2017-2018 – www.communities.qld.gov.au/women

[2] Seniors Brisbane, “Threefold answer to housing needs”, page 8, November 2018.

[3] The Senior Queensland, October 2018.

[4] www.benevolent.org.au

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