House debates

Monday, 10 September 2018

Statements by Members

Women in Parliament

4:03 pm

Photo of Andrew LeighAndrew Leigh (Fenner, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

The Prime Minister du jour has said some questionable things during his first fortnight, but I want to draw attention to just one comment. Speaking to a football coach over the weekend, he invited the man to Canberra to 'give the boys a bit of a rev-up'. Let me repeat that: 'the boys.' I'm not here talking about sport; I'm here talking about gender equity and what message that comment sends to girls and women in Australia who are contemplating a parliamentary career.

The Liberals now have more than three men for every woman in their party room. There was a higher share of women in the Liberal party room two decades ago than there is today. There is a higher share of women on Australian ASX 200 boards and in the judiciary than in the federal Liberal party room. Labor, thanks to its adoption of quotas during the 1990s, is now nearly at parity. That's made a difference in how we think through issues such as the tampon tax, reinstating the time-use survey and standing against attempts to water down our progressive tax system and shift the tax mix towards consumption.

Labor has drawn heavily on the important work that's been done showing gender bias within the tax system and the importance of thinking about tax reform through a gender lens. I acknowledge the hard work of experts such as Miranda Stewart, Guyonne Kalb, Meredith Edwards, Maria Raccionero, Sarah Voitchovsky and Pamela Katic, and thank the Women in Economics Network for hosting me to speak about these issues at their forum in Sydney last week.