Can the Minister for Women PLEASE stand up? | Women's Agenda

Can the Minister for Women PLEASE stand up?

I am wondering if you can help me. You see yesterday new data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency shows that the pay gap between men and women in management is up to 45%. The average pay gap between men and women of 18.6% pales in comparison.

In light of such diabolic news – that a proportion of Australian women are penalised to the tune of 45% each pay cheque by virtue of their gender – it seems reasonable, obvious even, that the person charged with the responsibility for that penalised gender would, at the very least, step up to express some dismay. (A bold leader might actually call upon Australian employers to conduct a pay audit to ensure this type of disparity is reduced.)

And, yet, try as I might, I cannot find a single reference or comment from the Minister for Women regarding this news. Am I mistaken? Has our fearless Minister for Women Tony Abbott addressed this issue?  Has he reached out to the WGEA or the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Liz Broderick?

As far as I can tell, a spokesperson for the Minister assisting the Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash, has despatched a comment. Let me reiterate: a spokesperson for the Minister Assisting the Minister for Women.

Not the Minister for Women himself. Not even the Minister Assisting the Minister for Women. But a spokesperson for the latter.

It hardly sends a message that this blatant inequality is unpalatable to the government, does it?  

Admittedly the Minister for Women has a bit on at the moment, not least of which is maintaining his grip on his party’s leadership. But in actual fact I wonder whether that doesn’t reinforce precisely why he should focus his mind on a substantive issue in his own portfolio. 

Busying himself acknowledging and exploring the hurdles that exist within the Women’s portfolio, for example, might send his colleagues and constituents a positive message. He’s far too busy sinking his teeth into actual problems, to get bogged down in a leadership spill. And yet, it seems, there is silence.  

Abbott’s assertion last year that repealing the carbon tax was his greatest achievement as Minister for Women, ought to have motivated a credible leader to ensure that come 2015 they had a better answer. 

If the Minister for Women is unwilling to make mention of a legitimate problem – like the fact that the pay gap is getting bigger – that falls smack bang in the middle of that portfolio, the question has to be asked: is this the right person for this portfolio? 

From the outset it’s been difficult to conclude otherwise but as the days and weeks roll by, it seems ever more thus. Will the Minister for Women PLEASE stand up? Or hand the baton to someone who will?

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