Published: 10/03/2022
Category: On The Job
Published: 10/03/2022
Category: On The Job

So much achieved, such a long way to go. That is the message that resonated across Australia for International Women’s Day this week.

As women know too well, Scott Morrison is big on grand announcements but goes missing when it comes to delivering on promises and policies.

Exhibit A – Remember his “Prime Minister for Women”? Neither do we.

It was just another announcement without substance from a government that has shown it just doesn’t care about systemic gender equity disadvantage.

ACTU President Michele O’Neil made it clear that women are sick and tired of waiting for Scott Morrison to act.

“Australian women are spending another International Women’s Day waiting for action from the Morrison Government,” she said.

“After nearly a decade in power, this Government has had plenty of press conferences claiming that they support women, but we have very little to show for it.”

Another year, another zero on the scorecard

And the facts don’t lie. At every turn, Scott Morrison has squandered his promises when it comes to gender equity issues.

Despite the press conferences, the sweeping statements in Parliament, and his lost “Prime Minister for Women”, nothing much has changed.

Under his leadership women in the workplace:

  • Have a 2 in 3 chance of experiencing sexual harassment in a current or former workplace

  • Have no guaranteed right to paid family and domestic violence leave, despite a spike in family and domestic violence during the pandemic 

  • Rely on the second worst paid parental leave scheme in the developed world, according to the OECD  

  • Pay for some of the most expensive early childhood education and care in the world – with early childhood educators being extremely low paid   

  • Earn on average $483.30 less per week than a man and retire with half the amount of super 

  • Are more likely to be in low wage, casual, part-time and insecure work 

This appalling scorecard underlines the utter indifference the Morrison Government towards addressing gender equity issues for working women.

Working women won’t wait

Michele O’Neil didn’t hide her frustration.

ACTU President Michele O'Neil
ACTU President Michele O’Neil

She called out the Morrison Government for being all talk and no action on closing the gender pay gap and letting key opportunities slip by.

She said Morrison had missed the mark on, “legislating all recommendations of [email protected], regulating the overuse of insecure work, increasing the minimum wage to a liveable wage”.

“Instead, at every turn, he shrugged off responsibility, did nothing, or blocked progress,” Ms O’Neil said.

Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins highlighted the need for the Morrison Government to act on the toxic culture underlying the sexual violence pervasive in Australian workplaces.

Ms Jenkins applauded the survivors and victims of gendered-based violence who had shared their stories and declared all employers “on notice”.

“They must understand the risks in their workplaces and take swift individual and industry action to eliminate sexual harassment,” she said.

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We have the solutions so where is the willpower?

The ACTU has called on the Government to take swift and unequivocal action.

The work has already been done. The ACTU has identified a range of issues that would make an immediate and substantial difference to the lives of Australian working women.

With these actions handed to him on a platter, Morrison has no excuse to dawdle.

  • Introducing stronger equal pay laws in the Fair Work Act

  • Paying superannuation on parental leave

  • Implementing all 55 recommendations of the [email protected] report, including a positive duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment

  • Legislating 10 days paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave into the National Employment Standards

  • Introducing free, universal, accessible, and high-quality early childhood education and care delivered by properly paid securely employed education.

This pandemic has shown us how much we rely on underpaid and undervalued workers in essential roles.

In many cases, these frontline sectors consist of a strong female workforce who are vital to the wellbeing of their communities.

Aged care, early childhood education, retail, nursing and other allied health roles – these highly feminised industries have been crucial in steering Australia through COVID-19.

There has been lots of flowery prose and tributes delivered to these workers, but applause and pats on the back don’t pay the bills, according to Ms O’Neil.

“Under this Government women-dominated sectors including health and aged care and early childhood education, continue to be systematically underpaid,” she said.

“And 61 per cent of those reliant on minimum wage and Award-reliant are women.”

“The Morrison Government could act to address inequality and close the gender pay gap but is refusing to do so,” Ms O’Neil said.  

International Women’s Day shows Scott Morrison is all talk no action

International Women’s Day shows Scott Morrison is all talk no action