House debates

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Questions without Notice


2:46 pm

Photo of Jane PrenticeJane Prentice (Ryan, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Jobs, Industrial Relations and Women. Would the minister please update the House on how our government's stewardship of the economy is helping to support the financial security of Australian women and is standing by Australian families? Is the minister aware of any threats posed by alternative approaches?

Photo of Kelly O'DwyerKelly O'Dwyer (Higgins, Liberal Party, Minister for Jobs) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Ryan for her question and for her hard work on behalf of all of her constituents. She knows how important it is that, as a government, we focus on the economic security of women, and we are. I reminded the House only yesterday about the great strides that we are making for women's retirement income with the flexibility changes that we have brought into the system for working women, something that those opposite would like to abolish if given a chance.

We have provided more support for families, particularly for low- and middle-income earners, through our Child Care Package that commenced operation from 1 July this year. And this year's budget included more initiatives for women's economic capability and leadership, with funding for packages like women in STEM to increase female participation in maths, sciences and engineering.

It's also very clear that the government's economic plan is working. We have created more than 1.1 million jobs since coming to government, and the majority of those jobs have been taken up by women. There are more women in work than ever before and more women in full-time work than ever before. But, of course, we won't stop there. This year I will deliver the first ever women's economic security statement, which will provide practical supports to provide more opportunities for increasing women's economic security.

Those opposite like to talk a really big game when it comes to the economic security of women, but let's actually have a look at their record. When they left office women's full-time employment was going backwards. Those opposite don't just like to hike up taxes; when you look at their record, the gender pay gap was hiked up to 17.2 per cent on their watch. They hate hearing it but it is true. Under our government it has been reduced to 14.5 per cent. It is still high, but it is trending in the right direction, and we are very focused on making it go down even further.

They like to pretend that they care about women's retirement balances but the Leader of the Opposition faces a test, because we have a package in the Senate right now that would end the rorts and rip-offs. He has a test, because he could support that package. He could apologise for the fact that when he was the minister he was the one who scrapped the fee protections for people with low-balance accounts. He could make it right by supporting the government's package and increasing the retirement income for millions of Australian women to the tune of billions of dollars, but if he won't he stands condemned by his record.