Gender pay gap is getting worse: Plibersek

Karen Sweeney
(Australian Associated Press)

While other countries make progress on closing the gender pay gap Australia’s has been getting worse, Tanya Plibersek says.

The deputy opposition leader has promised “measurable action” to achieve equal pay for equal work if Labor wins government at the next election

Australian women can’t wait 50 years for equality, she says.

Ms Plibersek unveiled Labor’s national gender equality strategy on Wednesday with a promise to set the agenda for change.

“To start, women need economic security and independence – this means closing the gender pay gap and working to narrow the gap in retirement incomes so older women aren’t falling into poverty and homelessness,” Ms Plibersek told the National Press Club.

But the party has no clear plan yet on how to achieve pay equity, choosing consultation before action.

“We obviously have to have further conversations with business, with the union movement, with industrial relations experts about how we best achieve the goal of reducing the gender pay gap and making sure that women’s work is properly valued,” she said.

Countries that have achieved some success, including New Zealand and Belgium, had used targets, legislative change and focused on culture change in business, Ms Plibersek said.

Whatever the targets are, Labor is promising to hold themselves accountable through annual progress reports to parliament.

The strategy brings together existing and new targets for female representation in the workplace and on government boards.

It also includes a plan to work with the states and territories to set family and domestic violence reduction rates.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers believes violence against women costs the Australian economy $21.7 billion each year and without action would add up to $323.4 billion by 2045.

“We can’t wait 50 or more years to close the pay gap. We can’t wait 30 years for equal political representation,” Ms Plibersek says.

“In 1972 we said ‘it’s time’. In 2018, women are saying ‘time’s up’. Women are standing up and demanding to be heard.”


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