Achieving equality & justice for women

01 April 2022

Speech delivered to Parliament by Libby Coker MP on Thursday March 29, 2022:

Deputy Speaker, the fight for justice and equity for women across our nation is far from over. But this is not just a fight for women, its a fight for every family. It is a fight for our nations future productivity.

Because we know that when women do well, families do well. And when families do well, we create a hopeful, prosperous nation.

We know that shamefully, under the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison governments, women do not have the same opportunities as men.

Many women do not receive the same pay as men. And far too many women in this country experience gender-based violence and die at the hands of men.

I stood in solidarity with the STOP Campaign this week on the front lawns of Parliament House. The STOP Campaign is a grassroots movement tackling sexual violence against women.

They presented the Lost Petition created by artist Dans Bain. The Lost Petition is a 30-metre list of the names of 978 Australian women and children who have been killed by their partners since 2008.

These are Dans words on why she brought this petition to Parliament on Budget Day:

Women need to be at the forefront of this years budget. We need to make changes. Things like reviewing sexual assault laws, introducing a national gender equality act and increasing funding for domestic violence support. I want systematic, real-world change in the way we deal with male violence and I think it starts with the continual examination of gender equality in all aspects of society.

Sadly, we know that one in four women in Australia experience domestic violence and tragically, every 11 days, an Australian woman loses her life at the hands of her partner.

These statistics reveal a fundamental flaw in Australian culture a lack of equality and respect for women. And no wonder. Weve heard from a procession of talented women that they have been bullied and intimidated by our own Prime Minister.

And what did the Prime Minister do? He voted against [email protected] recommendations like:

  • Changing workplace laws to ban sexual harassment
  • Requiring employers to try and stop sexual harassment in their workplace
  • Protecting victims against massive legal bills for taking legal action against perpetrators
  • Letting unions (and other organisations) bring legal action against perpetrators on behalf of victims

Labor WILL implement every single recommendation in the [email protected] report.

This is a government that has failed women over and over again.

Women across our nation are now facing

  • Skyrocketing costs of living
  • Record high childcare fees
  • Stagnant wages and a gender pay gap
  • Skills shortages; and
  • Rising rates of sexual assault

And not only that, Australia has slipped 26 places in the World Economic Forums gender rankings since Tony Abbott appointed himself the Minister for Women in 2013.

We are now in 50th place worldwide our worst result ever.

Even worse, Australias ranking on economic opportunities for women has fallen to 70th in the world and health and safety has dropped to 99th in the world.

And the budget handed down by the Morrison government on Tuesday does absolutely nothing to address this shameful record.

Achieving equality and justice for women requires leadership from the top. But instead, we have a Prime Minister who treats women with disrespect.

By contrast Labor leads by example, establishing a quota policy that has resulted in nearly an equal number of women and men in our caucus.

Countries with gender equality in the workforce are the same countries that experience the lowest rates of sexual and family violence against women and children. Labor will not turn its back on women. We have a plan to seriously address family violence, close the gender pay gap, ensure women feel safe at work, in public places and in their homes. We will end the exploitation of casual labour and create secure jobs.

And we will treat women who work in female-dominated professions like aged care, health care and teaching as valued members of our society, with better pay and conditions.

Labor understands that when women do well, families do well. And when families do well, we create a hopeful, prosperous nation.

Its time for a change of government. Its time for an Albanese Labor government.