I woke up on the morning of Mother’s Day and groaned, much like many Australians.
It was the day the government completed its complete uturn on its signature policy for working parents. They did it without remorse.
Things got worse during the week.
Members of the Abbott Government accused women who took government and employer paid parental leave of being ‘double dippers’ and ‘rorters’. Such accusations fly in the face of rationality and the purpose of the system.
Keeping up this message, Treasurer Joe Hockey even delivered a budget which was derided for not doing enough for domestic violence, or women in need.
We then found out that the Finance Minister and Assistant Treasurer own wives had double-dipped, which I prefer to call accessing adequate support, when they had children.
Things have continued to go downhill.
Yesterday, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull claimed that ABC journalists Leigh Sales and Emma Alberici were too aggressive in their interviewing style. Only female presenters were named. Anyone who watches the news knows that male interviewers ask the hard questions too, but the expectation is that female presenters shoud be more accommodating.
The accumulation of all of these experiences in one week made me realise that the government needs advice. Governments receive bucket loads of support through councils, committees and boards.
But there is no women’s advisory council in the Federal Government that reports to the Prime Minister.
I think we can all agree that the government does need help.
Below is my list of six women who could provide a great start:
- Diane Smith-Gander. As the chair of Transfield Services and director of Wesfarmers, along with being president of Chief Executive Women, she knows the landscape of corporate Australia like the back of her hand. She’s a thinker and a doer who manages the cards placed in front of her.
- Professor Megan Davis. She is chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and one of our leading legal brains. Thoughtful and wise on issues facing the indigenous community, this UN-fan from way back can help the government include Aboriginal women in its policies.
- Helen McCabe. As the head of household staple the Australian Women’s Weekly, McCabe has great insights into what Australian women are thinking. Crossing politics, society and culture her antennae is in-tune to her readers.
- Jan Owen. The CEO of the Foundation for Young Australian’s is on a mission to support our next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs and thinkers. She can help keep the government’s eye on sustainability and preserving the future.
- Dawn Hough. The boss of Pride in Diversity is working towards making the workforce more inclusive for all Australian women – whether they’re lesbian, bisexual, trans or straight.
- Kate Carnell. The only Liberal woman to have been elected head of government as chief minister of the ACT, Carnell is now the CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and has collaborated with unions over sexual harassment in the workplace.