SENATOR CLAIRE MOORE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CARERS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNITIES
SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND
AUSTRALIAN WOMEN STILL NOT GETTING EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK
Today, Friday 4 September 2015, is the national observance of Equal Pay Day.
The day marks how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year - because women earn less, on average, than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay.
Labor believes that recognising Equal Pay Day is important to identify ways of addressing hurdles that stop women receiving equal pay for equal work.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Average Weekly Full-Time Earnings data, the national gender pay gap is currently 17.9% and has hovered between 15% and 19% for the past two decades.
More needs to be done to close the gap for women pay and that includes increasing support for women in work.
Recent research conducted by the ANZ has found, over their lifetime, Australian women earn an average of $700,000 less than men. The research also reported that 'almost half of all mothers report some form of workplace discrimination either during pregnancy, while on parental leave or on their return to work. Of these, a third resign and look for another job or drop out of the workforce altogether'.
Labor introduced in a Paid Parental Leave scheme in 2011, to support eligible working parents and enable continued workforce participation.
But the Abbott Government's planned cuts to the scheme will cut paid parental leave to around 80,000 new parents each year.
In fact, the Abbott Government's own figures show some new mums earning less than $30,000 a year will lose $11,800 in Paid Parental Leave.
Labor also recognises that by increasing the numbers of women filling positions of leadership in Australian workplaces is a key part of addressing equal pay and took several steps in office to increase the participation of women on boards including achieving a target of 40 per cent representation of women on Australian Government boards in 2013 and launching BoardLinks in 2012, a proactive initiative to support more Australian women into leadership positions.
Labor also passed the Workplace Gender Equality Act in 2012 which established the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and requires that employers report against Gender Equality Indicators. The aim of collecting this information is to assess gender equality in the workplace and give employers the opportunity to consider their practices and outcomes in comparison with their industry peers.
Unfortunately there is still a long way to go to lift participation of women in decision-making as recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures reveal women only hold 24 per cent of Board Directors and 17 per cent of CEOs.
Labor's committed to gender equality as demonstrated at the recent Labor National Conference with party rule changes that aim to increase women's representation in party positions to 50 per cent by 2025.
The first equal pay case in Australia was In 1975 and we still haven't cracked the problem - as succinctly put by Justice Mary Gaudron in the 1998 NSW Pay Equity Inquiry, "we got equal pay once, then we got it again, and then we got it again, and now we still don't have it."
The issue of equal pay is complex but Labor is committed to address gender equality as a matter of fairness and economic growth and opportunity for all.
FRIDAY, 4 SEPTEMBER 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: MEREDITH HORNE 0408 599 800