Speech on Equal Pay for Women at Labor's National Conference
2.00pm | December 20, 2018
I couldn’t be prouder than I am today - to be part of the Labor team.
On Sunday Bill Shorten told us that from the very first day, a Labor government would strive to deliver equal pay.
And today, Tanya and Brendan have announced very significant legal and institutional changes that will do just that.
The gender pay gap today has barely shifted since I graduated from university.
After all the talk about how we could do anything as women, the endless questions about whether feminism has ‘gone too far’ - the gap between men and women’s wages remains at 23%.
Delegates there is a white hot rage amongst women about just how unfair this is.
Women work hard, they study hard, they work to care for their families as well as deliver for their employers.
But their reward is to work months extra each year to get just the same wage as their male counterparts.
And why is it?
Well the greatest contributor is just flat out discrimination.
It’s the attitude from employers that you simply can offer a women less, or overlook her for promotions - simply because she is a woman.
And it needs to stop.
But far more insidious, and perhaps harder to fix is the undervaluation of women’s work.
We all know what that work is - it’s the work that looks very much like the work that women do at home for free.
It’s the work caring for others.
It’s the emotional labour - labour performed in childcare centres caring for other people’s children, labour performed in aged care homes caring for our grandparents, labour performed in the homes of Australians with disabilities.
It’s the work that every one of us says we value.
It’s the work that Liberal politicians are very keen to associate themselves with for photo opportunities.
But it is work that is clearly and disgracefully under-paid.
Today’s announcements seek to remedy this.
These reforms build on campaign run by our unions. They build on cases brought by our unions before the fair work commission.
They respond to the evidence that was presented to the Senate Committee on gender segregation by unions and women’s groups.
And these reforms present a real opportunity to tackle this problem in a Labor way - a way that acknowledges the role of trade unions in seeking justice.
This is not just about equal pay. It’s about equal worth and equal dignity.
Delivered on Tuesday 18 December 2018 at Labor's National Conference in Adelaide.