SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER
CHAIR, FINANCE AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION REFERENCES COMMITTEE
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
SENATOR CLAIRE MOORE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE PACIFIC
SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND
WOMEN AT WORK OVERLOOKED AGAIN - THIS TIME BY GOVERNMENT
A lack of leadership from Government is hindering progress on pay equity, a Senate Inquiry heard today.
The inquiry into gender segregation in the workplace and its impact on women's economic equality heard evidence from key unions and employer organisations including the Australian Council of Trade Unions, National Foundation for Australian Women, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Services Union.
Witnesses highlighted the lack of any clear national policy objective for equal remuneration, and failure to address the historic undervaluation of jobs and industries traditionally performed by women.
Committee Chair Senator Jenny McAllister said "Most of us are familiar with the idea of the glass ceiling for women, but we're less familiar with the problem of the glass wall. The truth is that Australia has a highly segregated workforce. Men and women work in very different roles and industries."
"The industries dominated by women are generally paid less than those dominated by men, and this is a leading cause of the gender pay gap. On current projections, it will be 170 years before Australian women achieve pay equity with Australian men. This is just not right and Australian women deserve better."
"From the composition of cabinet, right through to their position on the minimum wage, this Government can't or won't provide leadership on gender equity at work. We talk a lot about women in leadership but if we're serious about addressing the gender pay gap we can't take our eye off what's happening for women on low pay."
Senator Claire Moore said "Australia made an important commitment at the G20 meeting in 2014, to reduce the gap in workforce participation between men and women by 25% by 2025. It was disappointing to hear from the wealth of witnesses at today's hearing that there has been no engagement from Government towards achieving this goal."
In calling for national leadership, Erin McCoy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions described the situation as "a great and continuing injustice in the Australian labour market. To date, policy and law reform initiatives have failed to make a significant difference. It's not as though we don't know what the policy solutions are."
Professor Lisa Heap of the Victorian Trades Hall Council said "there are economic and social consequences of the under-utilisation of women in the labour market. Now is the time to take action because this is costing women and it is costing our communities."
MONDAY, 10 APRIL 2017