SENATOR THE HON KATY GALLAGHER
Minister for Finance
Minister for the Public Service
Minister for Women
Date: Wednesday, 8 March 2023
NARELDA JACOBS, HOST: And joining me again is Finance Minister and Minister of Women, Senator Katy Gallagher. We have Deputy Nationals Leader, Senator Bridget McKenzie and the Greens Manager of Business, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. Senators, thank you so much for joining us, once again at Party Time. Katy Gallagher, I'm going to start with you as Minister for Women. Women are disproportionately impacted by cost-of-living pressures and we've learned today that there's research that an average over $1 million is earned by women over their career less than men. So, what is the Government doing to bridge that gap?
SENATOR THE HON KATY GALLAGHER, MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Well thanks for having us on. Happy International Women's Day. It's great to share the segment with Bridget and Sarah. Look, there's a range of things we need to do to close the gender pay gap for women. We know that at the beginning of women's careers, it's a very modest gap but by the time women retire it's the largest. And it largely comes down to those middle earning years in your mid-30s, when women are having children and they're coming in and out of the workforce. So, there's things we have to do about wages, we have to look at things like super, but we also have to make sure we've got good child care arrangements so women can make choices between working and caring for kids. There's a whole range of things we have to do. There isn't one solution, but we're certainly focused on it because we want to drive for a gender equal Australia and at the moment, we don't have one.
JACOBS: Bridget McKenzie, women are being forced to seek homelessness services in a disproportionate way. We hear there's something like a 49% increase on the numbers of women and their children trying to access homelessness services on this time last year. So we have a situation where there's been nine interest rate rises under this Government alone. Is the Government doing enough?
SENATOR THE HON BRIDGET MCKENZIE, LEADER OF THE NATIONALS IN THE SENATE: I think we can always do more, and happy International Women's Day to everybody out there. I mean, we're very lucky that we do live in a country like Australia with a strong social safety net but that was one of the things we really focused on when we're in Government is actually increasing those support services, recognising that women were disproportionately impacted by homelessness, particularly as they reached middle age and later in life and had a various range of programs to deal with that. I think as we see the cost-of-living pressures arising people's mortgages have doubled over the recent times, and that is putting people under severe pressure. The Government needs to start making the right decisions around their fiscal policy so that the Reserve Bank doesn't feel so much pressure to keep pushing interest rates up.
JACOBS: Well, Senator Hanson-Young, you've heard what they both had to say. What are the Greens proposing?
SENATOR SARAH HANSON-YOUNG, MANAGER OF AUSTRALIAN GREENS BUSINESS IN THE SENATE: Well, we need to get on with all of these things. But one of the key issues of course, is ensuring that child care is affordable, and we want to make sure child care is actually free to ensure that women can have good quality child care for their kids, and be able to go back to work without it being a stress. We need to increase paid parental leave. We just saw the Parliament pass an increase of two weeks pushing it up to 20. Well, we need 26 weeks, and we need to make sure superannuation is included in that because if you'd have to take time off, to have your child, we should be making sure women aren't falling further behind with those superannuation payments, so we do narrow that gap in the later years. But the other key issue, Narelda, is, you know, the Government talks about not being able to afford all these things right now. And I know Katy's sitting there, wishing you know she could pay for more services. Well, dump the stage three tax cuts because then you have more money in the bucket, and we know that those big tax cuts to the wealthiest Australians are overwhelmingly going to men. So, we're actually giving men a tax break while women are doing the hard yards and falling further and further behind economically.
JACOBS: Alright, Katy, well, stage three tax cuts?
GALLAGHER: Well, we haven't changed our position on those. They are legislated to come in July 2024. And I should say they do kick in at about the $45,000 mark. So, you know, we are conscious of that as well. But we have to make room in the Budget for a whole range of things, that's the reality: we have increased PPL to 26 weeks, we have made huge investments in child care. We're doing a whole range of things to look at how we support the economic equality of women. There's legislation before the Senate which will improve the gender pay disparity. So, again, I think we're all really focused on it. I think all three of us absolutely focused on what we can do to improve the lives of women. And the final point I make is around violence. I mean, we have very high levels of violence against women and children in this country and until we deal with that culturally, and really see those levels decrease, we're not going to live in a gender equal country because that impacts on women's economic security and ability to put food on the table for their families.
MCKENZIE: I think it's not just working women though. Families make different choices throughout their entire lifecycle. You know, before I got into politics and lecturing at university, I chose to stay home and look after my kids, and that was a decision my husband at the time and I made. So, the system that we're overseeing has to make sure that all families, all women and parents have choices available to them. So, it is about having affordable childcare, but it's also about ensuring that there's a great education system, so young women can go out and become, you know, whatever they want to be in terms of their career. But we also have paid parental leave schemes in place, that when they do make decisions about what they want to do once they become parents, that both fathers and mothers can make choices that are in the best interest of them and their families. It's not all about the taxpayer funding everything that Sarah just outlined, because there are a ton of women who are running small businesses in this country. There are a lot of women who are choosing to be carers of either elderly parents or their children. And we need a system that recognises all of that diversity so that women really do have choice in the 21st century.
JACOBS: Should super be more equitable regardless of what choices you make in life? Should you have the power to earn super and have contributions made to your super despite you know, what you choose to do work wise? Because super is such a great divide. And Bridget this morning, Peter Dutton said or accused the Government of 'class war' over its proposed super changes.
MCKENZIE: Here look, I represent rural and regional community in particular, one of the issues that we've got around the superannuation changes announced by the government - yes, it's a broken promise, they said they weren't going to make any changes and here we are - it's things like the family farm or your own small business as a small business family, a lot of Australians have chosen to put those into self-managed super funds so that they can pass them on to their next generation, if you like. And we have no clarity about whether they're going to be captured by these changes as well. So there's a lot of uncertainty. But in terms of superannuation, as I said, different women are making different choices about their earning capacity throughout their life and we need a super system that recognises that sometimes we're in full time work sometimes we're in part time work and sometimes we're choosing not to work at all because of other commitments we have in our life and the super system, I think, and this is my personal opinion, needs to reflect the reality of predominantly women's choices.
JACOBS: I'm going to turn to different standards for women now and Victorian MP Georgie Purcell is wearing a dress today. I don't know if you've seen it or not. It's adorned with abusive online comments she's received including one that reads 'your voters deserve to know you’re a whore'. Katy Gallagher, if you were to wear words of abuse that you've been hurled at what sorts of things would you be wearing?
GALLAGHER: You know, this is something we all put up with, right. Women in public life, regardless of where you come on the political spectrum, whether you're in the media, whether you're a sports person, whatever. Women disproportionately receive vile, disgusting, online trolling. It's awful. I don't like to perpetuate what actually is being put out there. And I think there's some level of community responsibility about how we report these matters, too, because I think there's a certain thrill element and those that throw this kind of abuse at women - and it is gendered and it's often sexualised and very threatening - that they get a bit of a thrill when it keeps getting reported. But I also acknowledge, I haven't seen the dress myself, but I do acknowledge that women are getting frustrated and are wanting to tackle this in any way we can because it just weighs you down. I mean, you either withdraw or you just put up with it.
JACOBS: Senator Hanson-Young if I could bring you in, is it still worth being a woman in in Parliament?
MCKENZIE: Yes! Yes!
HANSON-YOUNG: Yes, of course. And we do cop this type of sexist abuse and sexualised bullying and whether you're in, as Katy said, whatever side of politics you're on, or whether you're a politician or just in the public eye. I'd like to do a big shout out today, of course, to Lisa Millar on the ABC who this morning stared down the bullies who attacked her because of how she dresses. You know, actually I'm of the view and I've done it myself; you have to stand up, name this rubbish and call people out. The only way of taking on the bullies is making them know that you are not going to stand for their crap.
JACOBS: Well, Senators, thank you for your time on Party Time. I am giving the award for the 'one who parties hardest' to the woman who has 'her' in her name on International Women's Day. So Katy Gallagher, you win the award this time.
GALLAGHER: Ok I'll take it. Thanks.
MCKENZIE: Winners are grinners.
JACOBS: We'll see you next time, Senators, thank you.
Lisa Glenday 0403 931 209 | Gallagher.Media@finance.gov.au