Parliament – women

Thursday, 29 November 2018

This week, we’ve heard a lot of fantasy from those opposite. For example, how the chaos and dysfunction within the Liberal coalition government are not affecting the governance of this country. We know it is, and the Australian people know it is. Of course, we have also heard fantasy that having 10 sitting days in the next eight months is just business as usual, normal business of the parliament. Of course, we know that is absolutely not true as well. But probably the biggest fantasy we’ve had today has been espoused by the Minister for Women, who said the Liberal government was the natural government for women. Well, this is from the same minister who declared the day before that the Liberal Party was anti-women.

Well, it’s time to get out of fantasy land. This government has consistently over the last five years displayed a terrible attitude to Australian women. I don’t forget and neither do the women of Australia forget that this government, after promising to increase paid parental leave, spent years in government trying to cut the paid parental leave system. Not only did it try to cut it by introducing legislation twice into this parliament, which would mean you could not access both your company and government provided paid parental leave, but it did so by demonising a new mother or father in an awful way.

The now Treasurer argued it was somehow unfair if women wanted to take more time off work by accessing both schemes and that cutting paid parental leave was a fairer deal for taxpayers. The now Attorney-General backed in the fairness claims, somehow arguing that cutting paid parental leave was fairer. Then the Minister for Women argued that women should cop a cut in paid parental leave because they saw it as a trade-off for helping families with child care. But best of all was the now Prime Minister, who on Sky News told women of Australia, in the defence of the cut to paid parental leave, ‘You shouldn’t be able to double-dip’ and ‘I think it is a rort’. This is the now Prime Minister’s view on the Paid Parental Leave Scheme—a rort and a double dip.

Well, today in this place, we are absolutely sick of being lectured to by the government when it comes to supporting women. This government have done nothing to support women and have spent the whole time backing in cuts. The cuts to penalty rates were another great example—penalty rates that supported more proportionately women who do weekend work in retail and hospitality. The government sat by and watched those cuts happen. They could have intervened, they could have done something, but they sat on their hands. They also argued against increases to the minimum wage that disproportionately benefit women. This was an appalling display of not understanding how tough it is out there, how tough it is to make ends meet and how tough it is on the minimum wage. Instead, they argued against the increase in the minimum wage.

They have an opportunity now before the House. There is legislation that could potentially bring in 10 days of paid domestic violence leave. Of course, the government have a bill in the parliament for five days of unpaid domestic violence leave, but we have an amendment before the House that could bring in 10 days of paid domestic violence leave. It has been disappointing to see so few people from the government on the speaking list. We have one member of the government wanting to back in unpaid domestic violence leave, as opposed to 10 days of paid domestic violence leave. But of course, we’ve also had the former minister for women say that domestic violence leave would just be a disincentive not to employ women, and we had the Minister for Finance say that it was somehow a drag on the economy. This is the attitude that the government has about women in Australia. The women of Australia deserve better from this government, and if the government won’t provide it then the Australian Labor Party will.

If we are elected we are going to do a range of important things to improve life for Australian women. One of the significant ones is to pay superannuation on paid parental leave. This is a really important step to make sure that we increase the retirement savings of Australian women. There is more to do when it comes to Australian women’s superannuation, but that’s our first step.

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